It’s estimated that 35 to 45 percent of otherwise healthy, community-dwelling adults, age 65 or older, fall at least once a year. (American Geriatrics Society, British Geriatrics Society, and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon Panel on Falls Prevention, 2001)
Sometime or another, whether we’re very young or old, middle of the road, an athlete or mostly sedentary; one thing is certain: we all fall.
I recently witnessed the fall of a sweet lady who participates in the Sit Fit group I instruct on Monday and Friday mornings (10:00am at the Henry House- feel free to come join!) She wasn’t hurt and all is well, but the incident gave opportunity to review some important points we all need to consider: Firstly- you will likely fall at some point. Secondly- what then?
It’s important to take a moment to ask yourself the questions I asked my client after her fall: Are you bleeding or otherwise hurt? Can you move all your working parts? It’s OK to, and I encourage you to take a few minutes to gather your bearings before trying to get up right away, (unless you’ve fallen in a dangerous place). Then, (perhaps the most important question): Are you able to get up unassisted?
The answer to this last question is one that plagues many older adults and those with mobility impairments who live alone, and the thought of being stranded on the floor for hours or days after a fall is understandably frightening.
There are numberless training techniques and tips to help minimize the risk of falling, and though I work with my clients to increase balancing skills, muscle strength and flexibility, central processing of sensory information and motor responses (all of which help decrease the likelihood of a fall), there is one important exercise I incorporate into all training programs, even with younger clients, and that is getting down on the floor and up again.
There are demonstrable techniques for those with limited mobility, which I teach regularly. However, if you CAN do it now, practice getting down on the floor every day then getting yourself back up on your feet. If you can do it now, and practice it now, your odds of being able to get up unassisted after a fall are increased, even if you sustain a broken bone. If you’re afraid you can’t do it, or are unsure, talk to your healthcare provider about physical therapy or personal training to help you develop skills to build your confidence and minimize the fear of falling. (Minimizing fear actually goes a long way toward fall prevention! But, that’s a topic for another day.)
Sally Windham is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor. She lives in Blanco, and trains clients locally at Gem of the Hills and in Spring Branch at Family Fitness. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org