March is Fall Prevention Month

By: Ryan Meredith, DPM  |

Posted in  hidenews

March is Fall Prevention Month and as our elderly population increases, we see an increased incidence of falling. More than likely, you have had a loved one fall and suffered from an injury. Did you know falls are the main cause of injuries leading to death? In fact, fall related hip fractures account for 25% of injuries that lead to death in those over the age of 65. Prevention is the key to keep your loved one from losing his or her independence and residing in a nursing home facility.

Risk factors for falls include old age, chronic pain, diabetes, muscle weakness, loss of balance, dehydration and low vitamin D. Some medications can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness and loss of balance. If you experience any of those symptoms, contact your doctor and find if there is another alternative to that medication. 

Muscle weakness and atrophy are often caused by lack of exercise. An exercise program that is tailored to the person based on their abilities is imperative. “I can’t walk, I can’t exercise, I can’t do this, I can’t do that,” glass half empty mentality limits those from exercising. Instead, an exercise routine can be as simple as getting out of a chair without holding onto the arms of the chair. This will strengthen core muscles. Consult with your doctor for an exercise routine to benefit your balance. 

Environmental factors, both inside and outside of the home, can contribute to falling. Loose rugs, electrical cords, dark stairways, water on the floor can cause an individual to fall, but can be corrected easily.  Outside of the home, clear away debris from pathways around your home, car or garage. 
As foot and ankle specialists, we see many patients that are at risk of falling because of their shoe selection. We believe in the right shoe for the right activity.  Wearing bedroom slippers walking out to the mailbox? Not the right shoe. Going barefoot in the house to clean and cook? Put on shoes. Do you have a hard time putting on shoes and tying them up? Shoes need to be tied properly to ensure stability. Consult a podiatrist to help size, fit and recommend the best shoe for you. 

For severe cases, a customized balance brace may benefit a senior that is at risk of falling. Balance problems, history of falls or near falls, loss of feeling in the feet or weakness are signs that balance braces may benefit the individual. These are customized, covered by insurances and are accurately molded to the patient’s anatomy to provide maximum support. They are very lightweight and easy to apply and fit into most shoes easily. Ask your podiatrist for an assessment and evaluation to see if you’re eligible for this type of treatment. 

As the weather gets warmer and we come out of hibernation, we will see more of those we love getting hurt from falling. Please keep in mind these prevention tips and consult your physician or podiatrist if you have concerns about falling.

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054