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Fear of Falling Increases Risk of Falling

Posted by Dreu Adams on Feb 5, 2014 3:34:00 PM

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fear-of-falling-increases-risk-of-fallingMany people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.i

Falls are a threat to individual function and independence.

Many older people are scared of falling for the first time or having a repeat fall. In fact, in surveys taken of their greatest fears, falling is invariably at or near the top of the list. It exceeds fear of crime, financial fears, and even the fear of nursing homes (which is often tied to a fear of falling).ii This is understandable, as falls are responsible for 40% of nursing home admissions and it is widely known that a fall could lead to drastic life changes.

The very desire to remain safe and “right side up” and maintain the status quo of personal functioning and independence may actual increase the chance of a fall. Here’s what may happen:

  • Loss of strength – Muscles and bones can weaken over time without the regular activity of daily movement and exercise, causing reduced participation in daily tasks
  • Isolation – Fear of falling causes an individual to stay at home away from friends, family and others

Worries about falling that lead to stepping away from an active life do not actually help a senior individual’s cause. Studies have shown the fear of falling actually increases the risk of falling.iii

Prevent and Prepare

There are many preventative measures to help avoid falls. For example, the Centers for Disease Control recommends:

  • Regular exercise
  • Osteoporosis screening and, when appropriate, treatment
  • Careful review of medications which may cause dizziness or drowsiness;
  • Regular vision examinations
  • Home safety measures like eliminating potential tripping hazards, installing “grab bars” near toilets and tubs, improved lighting, and railings on both sides of stairways.
If an adult or senior has a fear of falling, consider some action steps:
  • Learn how to get up from a fall to be prepared and have more peace of mind
  • Talk with a doctor or health care provider about any fears of falling
  • Ask about how Physical or Occupational Therapy could assist in giving more strength and balance
  • Be physically active, even if only in small ways throughout the day
  • Find ways to stay interested and involved in the community, including family and friends
  • Speak with your doctor or home care agency such as Residential Home Health, and request a home safety evaluation to help create a safer home

These suggestions can help reduce falls and alleviate the fear of falling. Here is an opportunity to learn more about one of the action steps above: how to get up from a fall. Residential’s guide How to Get Up from a Fall is illustrated and includes step-by-step instructions describing how to prepare, rise and sit safely. Be prepared for a fall; use this knowledge to give you peace of mind and dispel fear and worry.

Download the guide below or call 866-902-4000 and speak with a Home Care Specialist about Stepwise, Residential Home Health's fall awareness and prevention program and other home health care services that can help your speicific situation.

Guide to Getting Up From a Fall i Centers for Disease Control
ii From 2013 NY Times article written by Harley A. Rotbart, M.D.
iii From 2013 NY Times article written by Harley A. Rotbart, M.D.

Topics: Fall Prevention