Falls aren’t just painful; they’re scary, too. Then, before we know it, our shaken confidence and fear of falling starts to change our lifestyle. Less gardening, less shopping, less movement.
Before we know it, that new “lifestyle of less” snowballs into decline.
The reduced amount of activity and mobility leads to muscle weakness and more unsteadiness, increasing the fear as we feel less safe in our own bodies and abilities, which in turn triggers a constantly shrinking amount activity…. We’re afraid another fall will leave us dependent on others.
Down the path we go, until a sedentary life becomes a bedridden one. Our independence is gone.
Falls are the leading cause of injury for those over age 65, both fatal and nonfatal, and the number one cause of hospitalization. So how can we stop the momentum of that fear and the influence it has, and go back to life as usual before the fall? Recognizing the situation is the first step.
We can’t stop what we don’t see.
A myth debunked: falls are not a normal part of aging.
They are entirely preventable through muscle and balance exercises, managing medications that make us dizzy, wearing glasses if needed to maintain good vision, and keeping our environment clear of trip hazards. Half of all falls happen in the home.
Once it’s recognized, talking through options and next steps can start us down a better path. An emergency response device to feel safer, physical therapy to recover from injury, walks and exercises to regain strength, small trips to regain confidence in ourselves… Collectively, these give us the freedom and confidence to move on with our life.
That fearful voice is quieted by our improving physical abilities.
How we recover from a fall depends on the amount of injury that happens with the fall. A bruised backside is very different from a broken hip or injury that requires a hospital stay. Any significant injury should include a recovery plan and support from appropriate medical professionals. However, once we’re on the mend, we decide how much activity we can manage and the speed of our own recovery.
To bounce back, it’s important to keep moving. We suggest a daily walk, since the distance can be easily changed based on what seems manageable at the time, but here are a few additional ideas to inspire you!
- Chair Yoga: Sun Health offers them at the Center for Health & Wellbeing, they may be free through a Medicare Silver Sneakers program and our favorite YouTube yoga maven, Adriene, offers one, too.
- Tai Chi: many community centers provide Tai Chi classes and they’re fabulous for balance.
- First Fridays art walk: this monthly evening activity is especially fun with friends. Self-guided, each participant can easily decide how far they’d like to walk and when to take breaks.
- Butterfly Wonderland: perfect for a leisurely stroll since it’s a small contained space, this is a great short activity that can be lengthened with lunch afterwards.
Sun Health Senior Living offers three Life Care retirement communities in Arizona, and a lifestyle focused on good health, wellbeing and independence. Beyond continuing care, each community also includes the Life Care guarantee to protect you against potential costs of long-term care down the road.
To learn more, we invite you to explore our website or attend an upcoming workshop near you.
To speak to someone immediately, please contact Jackie Lusson, our corporate director of sales, at 623-236-3767.
(Originally published March 20, 2018; last updated Jan. 11, 2019.)