Improving Strength and Balance Increases Your Chance of Maintaining Independence
If you have dizzy spells or find it difficult to maintain balance, you may want to investigate why. No matter your age, balance problems and dizziness can have multiple causes, and if left untreated, can lead to frightful falls.
Anyone at any age can fall, but falls for adults ages 65 and older can be more dangerous, causing fractured hips, head injuries, severe bruises and lacerations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year falls affect one in three adults age 65 or older. If you are 75 or older, you are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer than those age 65 to 74 who fall.
According to Salem Hospital’s Regional Rehabilitation Center Physical Therapist Cathy Kosboth, “As you age, changes in muscle strength, decreased joint flexibility, impaired vision, medications and changes in body shape can affect your balance.”
Fortunately, steps can be taken to help prevent falls and maintain your independence.
- Exercise regularly to improve leg strength and flexibility. Yoga and Tai Chi are particularly good for improving balance.
- Watch your alcohol intake. More than two drinks per day can cause unsteadiness.
- Consult your physician about your medications. Many medications can cause dizziness or equilibrium problems. Do not go off medication(s) without first consulting with your doctor.
- Have your vision checked every year. Wear the correct prescription.
- Eliminate possible hazards at home that could trigger a fall. Remove clutter, be sure to have ample lighting, put non-slip strips or rubber mats in bathtubs and showers, store frequently used items in easy-to-reach locations and tack down area-rug edges.
“Often, people who fall develop a fear of falling, even if they didn’t incur a serious injury,” said Kosboth. “In addition, many people don’t tell their physician about falls. This fear can lead to less activity, affecting physical fitness and actually increasing an individual’s risk of falling.”
If you have had two or more falls in six months, or are experiencing dizziness or nausea and vomiting with movement, ask your physician for a referral to vestibular therapy.
The Salem Hospital Regional Rehabilitation Center’s certified vestibular therapists have sophisticated evaluation and treatment systems to accurately assess balance problems and provide optimal therapy. For more information, call 503-561-5986
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Salem Hospital Regional Rehabilitation Center