Not a normal part of aging, falls can threaten the health, safety, and independence of older adults. Many use a cane, walker, scooter, wheelchair, or similar device to help them get around safely. Research indicates that approximately 25% of adults who are 65 and older use some type of mobility device, and the two most common are canes and walkers.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, using a mobility device does not make a person more likely to fall. Relying on a device does, however, decrease a person’s confidence. Researchers found people who need a cane were most likely to worry about falling and may often limit their physical activity as a result.
But being inactive can actually increase your risk of falling. “We all lose muscle mass as we age,” says Kari Richie, Springmoor’s Director of Health & Fitness. “Being as active as possible helps you maintain muscle and improve balance, which in turn helps you stay mobile.”
Being able to stand up from a chair is essential to remaining independent. Test yourself! How many times can you safely stand up and sit down in 30 seconds?
Find your age and gender on the chart. If you can stand up fewer times than the number listed, you’re at risk for a fall. You’ll want to practice this skill and perform other exercises to improve your lower body strength.
If standing up from a chair is very difficult and you don’t feel safe, make an appointment with your doctor. Physical therapy, available right here on the Springmoor campus, may be necessary to help you improve your strength and balance.
Every week, Springmoor offers many types of exercise classes and other fitness opportunities for the members of our community. Many residents regularly participate in the classes and personal training services offered in our Pathways Wellness Center.
Others complete their own exercise routines in their residences or make a habit of walking with friends on our beautiful campus. Ping pong, putting, croquet, shuffleboard, and other games are also popular. The social element helps make moving fun and provides accountability.
Any resident who wants to start exercising or increase their activity level can contact the Fitness Team for assistance. It’s never too late to start!
“We find that residents who exercise regularly tend to spring back more quickly from illness or injury. Their hard work really pays off,” says Kari.
Springmoor’s health and fitness staff may be able to help residents assess their fall risk and respond to questions regarding ideal exercises for them. Residents can also ask about upcoming balance screenings that will be held on campus. We’re here to help.
In addition to improving and maintaining your lower body strength, there are many other steps you can take to decrease your risk of falling. Consider implementing these simple fall prevention strategies:
Light up your living space.
- Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects.
- Use night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
- Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed in case you need to get up in the middle of the night.
Remove home hazards.
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, and other tripping hazards. Rearrange furniture so that high-traffic areas are clear.
- Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape or a slip-resistant backing or remove small rugs from your home.
- Store necessities like food, dishes, and clothing so they are easy to access.
- Help keep your bathroom safe by using nonslip mats in the tub or shower, a shower seat, and a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down. Install grab bars in the shower or tub. Consider a raised toilet seat or one with armrests.
Use appropriate assistive devices as needed.
- Don’t rely on furniture to keep you steady. A healthcare provider might recommend using a cane or walker, and you’ll want to use this device in your home as well as when you’re out and about.
- If you’re concerned about your mobility, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist.
Last but not least, wear sensible shoes.
- Slippers or sandals, shoes with slick soles, and stocking feet may increase your chances of falling, slipping, or stumbling.
- When selecting shoes, carefully consider the fit, tread, and weight.
Members of our waitlist can contact Kari Richie, Director of Health and Fitness at Kari.Richie@springmoor.org or 919-848-7147 to make a reservation to join us for one of our many wellness activities. We offer dozens of exercise classes on an ongoing basis, as well as fitness-related events and educational opportunities.
Our monthly service package allows you to spend less time doing things like dealing with health insurance paperwork and more time doing all of the things that bring you the most joy. From 24-hour security and emergency call service to chef-prepared meals, life is better at Springmoor!
To learn more about our active senior living community, call us at 919-848-7080 or click here to request a personalized tour or an information packet. We look forward to speaking with you soon about all that Springmoor has to offer. Keep moving and be safe!