Shoreen was in a hurry. She had bought gas and was trotting into the gas station to get her coffee. A moment later, she was sitting on the sidewalk with blood dripping from her hand.
How did she suddenly fall? Balance is defined as “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady." It sounds simple in theory but everything from quick movements to health issues can impair our ability to remain upright.
In Shoreen’s case, a quick backwards step to avoid someone coming out the gas station door propelled her into a concrete planter. She accomplished the backwards movement with ease but the sudden stop when she hit the planter caused her to lurch forward, landing on her knees and hands. Luckily, the only injury was a scrape on her thumb.
The statistics below from The Center for Disease Control (CDC) show why falls are a major national health concern.
- One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.
We cannot eliminate all falls but there are steps that you (or loved ones) can take to reduce the chance of becoming a statistic. The CDC has the following suggestions.
- Exercise regularly.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines.
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update eyeglasses to maximize vision.
- Make your homes safer by reducing tripping hazards.
Fear of falling doesn't need to rule your life. Just these simple steps can help reduce your risk.
Want to maintain, improve, or restore your balance skills? OASIS offers Better Balance classes to help! Find your OASIS city and browse their catalog to learn more.
In St. Louis, blog author Cindy Sue Blair will teach a Better Balance class, Aug. 5- Sept. 11, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10-11 am, at St. Matthias Church, 796 Buckley Rd., St. Louis, MO 63125. The fee for all 12 sessions is only $60. To register please call 314-862-4859, ext. 23.