On the surface, the news doesn’t look great:
1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 suffers a fall each year
800,000 hospitalizations (including 300,000 hip fractures) are the result of falls every year in older Americans
27,000 seniors are killed by falling each year, making this the leading cause of fatal injury in this age group
The CDC reports that fatality rates increased by 30% between 2007 and 2016, and they continue to rise
Of course, if you’re over the age of 65, this information probably isn’t news to you. As we get older our fear of falling grows, diminishing our ability to live a robust, independent life. We stay home more, often limiting our social engagements and activities. The overall quality of our life goes down and our likelihood for physical decline, depression, and isolation may increase as a result.
You have the ability to reduce your risk of falling
Despite what we have been led to believe, falling is not a normal part of the aging process. There are ways to reduce your risk and preserve your health and safety long into your golden years. Partnering with a knowledgeable physical therapist is the best way to get started on your path to fall prevention.
A physical therapist can help you:
Evaluate your risk for falling
Design a plan targeting your personalized needs
Work with you to make your home as safe as possible
Provide you with targeted exercises and balance training
Work with you, with your family members and caregivers, or with other health care providers to address risk behaviors, medications, or underlying medical conditions that could increase your fall risk
Partnering with a Virtual Physical Therapist
You may be wondering if virtual physical therapy is as effective as traditional in-person care. The answer, put simply, is yes. One recent research initiative used a virtual PT program to target the endurance, balance, and strength of patients over the age of 60. Their results showed a reduction in falls by 35 to 40 percent.
Virtual physical therapy is not only thought to be as effective as clinical PT in many instances but there are some who believe it may be more so. There is evidence to suggest that patients are more likely to be consistent with their exercises when their practitioner is able to check in on them at home and, as we’ve learned since we were young, practice makes perfect!
Virtual physical therapy has other benefits as well:
Safer - reduced exposure to dangerous infections and viruses like COVID-19
Easier - more accessibility, greater ease in appointment setting
Faster - no drive time or time lost in a waiting room
Convenient - no need to miss work or plan a day around appointments
If you’re interested in virtual physical therapy and wondering whether or not it’s right for you, reach out to someone today to learn more.
Not ready to set an appointment?
If you’re not quite ready to set an appointment with a virtual physical therapist today, that’s okay! There are still steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury from a fall: checking your home for fixable issues like dim lighting and for trip hazards like throw rugs or extension cords, making sure your footwear fits well and doesn’t contribute to any balance or walking problems, and talking with your primary care doctor about medications to see if they may be causing dizziness or low blood pressure.
Interested in doing more? Check out this article from John Hopkins Medicine that includes two simple exercises you can begin at home today. And remember, always talk to your doctor first before starting new exercises, especially if you have weak balance.
Fall Prevention: Balance and Strength Exercises for Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fall-prevention-exercises
Falls Prevention Facts. (2018, June 04). Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/ #:~:text=One in four Americans aged,hospital admissions among older adults.
How Telehealth-Based Physical Therapy Can Save Lives and Money. (2019, May 21). Retrieved from https://morningconsult.com/opinions/how-telehealth-based-physical-therapy-can-save-lives-and-money/ #:~:text=A growing wealth of evidence,to 40 percent among seniors.
Important Facts about Falls. (2017, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
Physical Therapy Guide to Falls. (2019, December 24). Retrieved from https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-falls