Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

Posts for tag: fall prevention

As Fall Prevention Awareness Day approaches, it’s time to assess our own risk for falls or the risk of someone we love. For the past several months since the Foot and Ankle Center has implemented our new program “In Balance” we’ve screened hundreds of our senior and at risk patients to make sure that they have the information and tools they need to prevent a fall.  

Screening starts with a very simple 12 question test.  Very likely if you’ve over 65 and have been in to see us in the past few months, we’ve asked you to take the test when you check in.

This is so important! Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those 65 years of age and over. In fact, every 14 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Unfortunately as we age the chance of falling increases the older we get.

There are many myths about falls according to the National Council on Aging. Here are just a few.

If I limit my activity, I won’t fall– although this might seem logical, the opposite is actually true. Physical activity actually helps with balance because you stay strong and maintain a fuller range of motion.  We recommend our patients keep active by walking or taking classes in yoga, tai chi, or strength building.

Once a couch potato, always a couch potato –just because you’ve never exercised or have given it up in recent years doesn’t mean you can’t regain strength and balance that you’ve lost. It’s never too late to get off the couch!

I don’t need to worry about my vision. It stays the same each year– vision problems can be a big risk factor for falls. Even if you haven’t had a change in your vision for awhile, it’s always a good idea to get an annual vision check just to be sure.

So if you haven’t already done so, take the test!  If you’re over 65 haven’t taken the screening test at the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City, as your Seattle podiatrist I highly recommend that you go online and checking our site Fall Prevention for Older Adults. There you’ll find the 12 questions at the bottom of the page. If you answer 4 or more question “Yes”, call us today at 206-368-7000 and let us know the results of this test. From there Dr. Berg and Dr. Paloian will further assess your risk and provide you with the tools and information you need to stay in balance.

 

 

As fall approaches I can’t help but turn my attention to fall prevention for my patients. September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month and National Fall Prevention Awareness Day is celebrated on the first day of fall, September 23rd, 2014. Did you know that age we age our likelihood of falling goes up and that 1 of 3 adults over 65 falls each year? Many of those who fall are seriously injured and become disabled.

Although it’s great that there is a month and day devoted to increasing awareness about falls in seniors, I’ve made it part of daily care for my senior patients. Particularly because I’m a Seattle podiatrist I make it my business to tell my patients to be cautious when the rains start to come down. However, even though we Seattleites often have to tiptoe around to avoid slipping outside, the truth is our indoor environment can be much more hazardous to our health. Homes can be like an obstacle course.

Here are some fall prevention tips for the home recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to help you or a loved one reduce their fall risk. We provide this list to all our patients who participate in our “In Balance” Fall Prevention Program. Use this checklist like a detective as you walk through your house or through the house of a loved one.

  • Check the floors in every room – make sure there is a clear path through the house; look for and eliminate loose cords or wires, magazines or books, or other hazards that could easily cause someone to trip.
     
  • Check stairs inside your home and steps outside home – keep steps clear of shoes, books, and other objects; make sure that carpet is not loose but firmly tacked down, ensure that steps are solid and repair those that aren’t; and install hand rails where needed.
     
  • Check your kitchen to make sure objects used frequently are within easy reach. Purchase a step stool for reaching hard to get items.
     
  • Have grab bars installed inside the tub and next to the toilet. Make sure that bathtub floor is non-slip or have non-slip surface applied.
     
  • Use night lights to make trips to the bathroom visible and put lamps within easy reach of the bed.

If you think you or a loved one is at risk for falling, call the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

Each day I ask my patients to walk and do other activities to stay strong, balanced, and flexible. It’s great to know that these recommendations have been confirmed by a new, landmark study conducted through the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging. It showed that moderate physical activity improves the independence and mobility of older adults. The study included 1635 sedentary men and women aged 70-89. Half the group walked 150 hours per week and performed strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. The other half received health education and did stretching. Moderate physical activity helped older adults maintain their ability to walk at a rate 18 percent higher than older adults who did not exercise. It also decreased disability with the largest gains for those who were most sedentary.

Our “In Balance Fall Prevention Program” was started to improve the mobility and balance of our older patients as 1 out of 3 are at risk for falling each year. Although there are multiple reasons for fall risk, one of the best ways to reduce that risk is through exercise. The study had older adults walking 21 minutes a day. Although that would certainly be ideal, if you’ve been sedentary for a long time or have other physical problems, I’d recommend going to your physician before setting out on any new course of exercise.

Forming a New Habit

  • It takes 21 days to form a new habit. It’s important to start off slowing but consistently. It’s better to walk for 5 minutes every day for the first 21 days than to walk more than you can physically handle; you’re much more likely to maintain the habit at a slow pace.
     
  • Find a walking buddy. Walking with a friend is good company and will keep you accountable
     
  • Purchase good walking shoes. If your feet are uncomfortable you are less likely to keep up the habit.
     
  • Join a class that also increases you strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is ideal for this purpose. In Seattle there are many choices. Choose a class that goes at your pace. Call your local senior center or the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. Two Dog Yoga is a yoga studio in Lake City that provides many Gentle Yoga options.

If you are having trouble walking I’d love to see you in my office so we can figure out how to keep you on your toes. Call us at 206-368-7000.

 

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 as 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.

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

By Rion A. Berg, DPM
November 01, 2011
Tags: seattle   balance   fall prevention   falls   falling   parent   grandparent  

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We’ve probably all seen the commercial for LifeCall. An elderly woman has fallen, no phone is nearby, and she can’t get up to call for help. Isn’t that everyone’s worst nightmare for their parents or grandparents?

People of any age can fall incidentally. But when patients tell me that walking feels as though they’re balancing on a fallen log, or that they can’t feel their feet, (due to neuropathy)... if  they have to touch or hold on to the wall or furniture while walking, it’s time to put some preventative measures in place.

Falls and fall related injuries are the leading cause of accidental deaths in older people, and 3 in10 seniors fall each year! Nearly half of the seniors who fall reduce their activity after a fall. Now, who wants that to happen?  If your loved one has been through a balance program before and is still falling, (or afraid of falling), there is more that can be done.

The Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City now offers the Back In Balance Fall Prevention Program. Back In Balance is a comprehensive program where a prescription custom-made, ankle-foot orthotic is designed to fit easily into the patient’s shoes. It is a long-term solution that can be used in combination with a fall prevention strength training program such as physical and occupational therapy, environmental changes in the home and a review of current medications. The ankle-foot orthotic is covered by most insurance companies.

Our first patient in the Back In Balance program reports that he now walks without feeling like he will fall and appreciates how easy the device is to put on and take off. Visit our homepage at www.bergdpm.com to see photos of the ankle-foot orthotic and learn more about it.

Remember, serious falls can happen inside or out, on level or uneven ground, wet or dry sidewalk. Here in Seattle we have all of that and more on any given day, especially in the winter! If you or someone you love has fallen in the past or is at risk for falls, call our office for an evaluation to see if the ankle –foot orthotic can help prevent a fall.

Rion A. Berg, DPM
Podiatrist and Board Certified Foot and Ankle Surgeon
Lake City Professional Center 
2611 NE 125th, Ste 130 

The Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City is Conveniently Located in Northeast Seattle:

  • 15 minutes from Downtown Seattle
  • 10 minutes from Shoreline, Kenmore, Juanita, Sandpoint, Meadowbrook, Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, Broadview, Greenwood, Northgate, and  Pinehurst
  • 5 minutes from the 130th Street Exit on I-5
  • Bus routes 41 and 243 stop close to our office
  • Parking is free