Preventing your parents from falling may not be the first thing on your mind this spring. As the weather warms up, they are more likely to venture out where uneven surfaces and balance problems can put them at risk for falling. In a survey done in 2010 in Washington State revealed that one in five older adults reported having fallen in the previous three months. When you consider that falls are the leading cause of death and non-fatal injuries in adults over 65, finding out what to do with a parent unsteady on their feet is critical (U.S. Administration for Community Living).
As the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City gears up for Older Americans Month, we’ll be writing about what you can do to prevent falls inside and outside of the home.
Risks for Falling
Two big areas of risk for falling in older adults are balance/gait problems and chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
- Balance and gait. As we age we lose balance, coordination, and strength which puts us at risk for falling.
- Chronic conditions. Over 90% of older adults have a chronic condition such as diabetes, arthritis, or stroke. These can result in lost function and increase falling risk due to loss of function, pain, or loss of feeling in the feet (diabetics).
Exercise to Improve Balance
Regular physical activity has been shown to improve balance and mobility in older adults. Yoga, Thai Chi, Qi Gong, and dance have all been used successfully to improve balance in this population. Here are some locations in the Greater Seattle Area offering exercise classes to help older adults with their balance.
- Northshore Senior Center (has classes at the Northshore Senior Center and its satellites in Kenmore, Mill Creek, and Woodinville
- West Seattle Senior Center
- Northwest Hospital and Medical Center
- Lake City, Meadowbrook, and Other Community Centers
- Greenwood Senior Center
Balance Assessment to Determine Medical Risks for Falling
As your Seattle podiatrist, I’m happy to announce that we are now offering an extensive balance assessment for our diabetic patients that may be at risk for falls due to loss of feeling in their feet. We can help patients with this type of risk through education and with specialized foot and ankle devices developed specifically to help this balance problem.
If you have a parent or older friend that is unsteady on their feet, call the Foot and Ankle of Lake City today to set up an appointment today at 206-368-7000 or request one online.