Winter is here, and winter means snow and ice. It also can mean slips and falls!
For people who are 65 or older, a fall can happen anywhere at any time, even if there is no ice on the ground. In fact, one in three older adults will sustain an injurious fall at some point.
Falls can cause physical injuries – 95 percent of the hip fractures that occur each year are the result of a fall – and they can also cause mental stress. Often, people who suffer falls will become fearful, leading them to reduce their mobility and their daily activities. They don’t want to be active because they fear another fall. Clearly, this is a slippery slope that can lead to other health issues down the road.
Individuals who are older than the age of 65, especially those who take more than four medications and who have muscle weakness, are at greatest risk of a fall. The risk of fall increases for those who use canes or walkers, or who have any heart-related issues.
If you or someone you love falls into these categories – or if you have been feeling slightly off balance  – there are steps you can take to decrease your risk of fall.
1) Exercise: Regular exercise can increase your leg strength and improve your balance .
2) See your doctor: Your doctor can review your list of medications to see if they may be the cause of your balance  problems.
3) Visit your eye doctor: See your eye-care specialist at least once a year. He or she can help you maximize your vision, so you don’t trip over any objects or obstacles.
4) Look around your house: Get a safety checklist for your home  to reduce tripping hazards. Get rails or grab bars installed where necessary, and increase lighting. The more light you have, the less likely you are to trip and fall.
5) Look into physical therapy (PT): Physical therapy  has been shown to improve balance through evidence-based interventions. Look for a physical therapist with experience treating balance issues, and look for a physical therapy  provider that has access to the latest rehabilitation technologies  for evaluating and treating balance problems.
Stay aware, stay active and enjoy your winter!
To learn more about physical therapy at Good Shepherd, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us online .