Picture yourself in 15 to 20 years from now. Are you enjoying life to the fullest? Are you still able to climb stairs and get off the floor without assistance? Can you catch your balance without falling?
Now picture yourself in 15 to 20 years. Imagine yourself having difficulty getting up from a chair without having to steady yourself. Imagine you lose your balance and fall on the floor. You discover that you can’t get up. Instead, all you can do is yell, “Help, help, I’ve fallen.” But because you didn’t want to wear that big, beige medallion around your neck, no one comes for hours. You were on your way to the bathroom when you fell.
The Danger of Falls
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four people sixty-five and older falls each year. And if you fall once, it doubles your chances of falling again.
Here are some other important facts about falls from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury
- Three million elder people are treated for falls in ER departments each year
- 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling – usually sideways
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries – AND
- In 2015, The average hospital cost for an elder fall injury was about $30,000
The problem is that all of us are at risk. If we fall, we could get seriously injured. If we get seriously injured, then we may become more dependent on others. We might not even be able to live on our own.
How We Can Limit Falls and Increase Our Balance
It is very important that we start taking action now. My daughter-in-law, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, says one of the most important things we can do as we age is to work on our balance. I’ve been taking her seriously and have been working on my balance. Here are some things we can all do:
In a 2018 AARP article, Joanne Jarrett, an M.D. suggested standing next to a strong countertop, standing on one foot without holding on. She said that if you need support before the five-to ten-second mark, your balance should be addressed.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests asking the doctor to evaluate your risk for falling and then ask for specific things you can do to minimize your risk. The Center also suggest doing strength and balance exercises such as Tai Chi. In addition, having our eyes checked at least once a year and making sure our home is safe by installing grab bars if needed, getting rid of things we can trip over, and so forth are recommended.
I’ve been working on my balance for the past year. When I watch the evening news, I often get out of my chair and stand on one foot and then the other. I do the same when I take our dog to the field and wait for him to take care of his business. My balance has improved. And I’m going to keep working on it as long as I can. What are you doing right now to maintain or improve your balance? If you aren’t already working on your balance, now is the time to start.