If you know a person who has NOT at some point or other taken a nasty fall, tell us about them the next time you visit Fairfax County’s Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. That person deserves special recognition because, well, pretty much everyone’s fallen at one time or another. However, when an older adult falls, it can be a much more dangerous event. Every year, emergency room physicians treat 3,000,000 Americans over the age of 65 for grave injuries following a fall.
There are several reasons why senior citizens tend to slip and trip. Because September 22 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, we thought it was an excellent time to present some risk factors that may surprise you:
- Fear of falling. Falling even one time can create anxiety that you’ll fall again. A fearful person becomes even more careful and moves around less. Less activity leads to muscle weakness and increases your risk of falling.
- Bad vision. Seniors should have their eyes examined annually and keep up with recommendations for new eyeglasses. You’re less apt to trip over something you can see.
- Arthritic joints. Pain and weakness in the hips, knees or feet can cause you to lose your balance.
- Weak ankles. Chronic ankle instability can make you unsteady on your feet.
- Lack of flexibility. If you’ve got tight muscles, they don’t move fluidly and can contribute to feeling wobbly. Performing targeted stretching, such as with yoga or Tai-chi, will significantly improve muscle flexibility.
- Medications. Some sedatives, antidepressants, and painkillers can cause dizziness. Check with your doctor to see if you need to change your prescription.
- Ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too big may flop around and cause you to trip. Likewise, worn-out soles that have lost their grip can easily make you slip and fall.
Seniors have the power to improve all of these risk factors. Board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM, can perform a fall risk assessment for you or your loved ones, recommend shoe improvements, and fix pain or weakness in your feet or ankles that makes you a fall risk. Contact our Centreville podiatry office online for an appointment or call us at (703) 996-3000.