Do not let the fear of falling rule your life. Many falls and fall-related injuries are preventable. Statistics and research have identified a number of risk factors that can be managed to decrease the likelihood of a fall. Additionally, Chiropractic care has been found to improve musculoskeletal balance, strength and coordination.
Consider the following strategies to keep your body strong, improve balance and coordination and to minimize your risk of falling:
Regular Chiropractic Care
The central nervous system is the master system of the body. It sends and receives signals from the brain that tell the body how to operate. Any disruption of the central nervous system can disrupt this communication, and that can lead to any number of health concerns including poor balance. Spinal misalignments or subluxations can be at the root of this nerve interference that causes balance and coordination problems.
As we get older, our bodies suffer from wear and tear. Improper spinal alignment or poor musculoskeletal health in the elderly can cause an improper balance that can in turn lead to an increased risk of falling. But no matter what age you are, your muscles and bones must work together to hold you upright. The slightest bit of spinal alignment, hip alignment, leg length, and muscle strength shifting or changing can affect balance. Correct alignment through gentle chiropractic adjustments can strengthen your body and improve balance.
The body is like a car in that proper maintenance is required to keep it in optimal working condition. The same is true of our musculoskeletal system. Regular visits to Dr. Hoch can keep your muscles and musculoskeletal system in check to improve overall balance and coordination. The elderly especially may benefit from chiropractic care as regular adjustments can improve posture and strengthen the musculoskeletal system to decrease the risk of falling.
In addition to keeping the body in optimal health and working order, consistent chiropractic care can also address central nervous system issues such as vertigo.
There are incredible benefits of chiropractic care that not only improve balance and coordination but increase overall health and wellness to keep you feeling your best. Contact Dr. Hoch at Fort Myers Chiropractic Studio to schedule an appointment and see for yourself the positive effects of chiropractic care for improving the function of the musculoskeletal system for increased balance and coordination.
Regular Exercise Program
Consider a general exercise program that includes strength training, balance training, and activities such as walking, water workouts, or tai chi, which is a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Exercise reduces your risk of falls by improving your strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. If you need help finding a personal trainer who specializes in these types of exercises, contact my office – we will be happy to introduce you to a trusted professional.
Review Your Medications
Your risk of falling may increase if you take certain prescription medications. Many medications have side effects that can affect your brain function and lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Taking multiple medications magnifies the risk, as does combining prescription drugs with alcohol, over-the-counter allergy or sleeping medications, painkillers or cough suppressants. Medications that can increase your risk of falling include psychotropics, antiarrhythmics, diuretics, and sedatives. Also, taking four or more types of medications contributes to increased fall risk. Ask your prescribing physician to review your medications and reduce your chances of falling by using the lowest effective dosage. Also, discuss the need for walking aids or supports while taking medications that can affect balance.
Have Your Vision Checked
Reduced vision increases the risk of falls. Age-related vision diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma, can alter your depth perception, visual acuity, and susceptibility to glare. These limitations hinder your ability to move safely. It is important to have regular check-ups with your eye doctor. Also, regularly clean your glasses to improve visibility.
Osteoporosis makes bones less resistant to stress and more likely to fracture. Caused by hormonal changes, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, and a decrease in physical activity, osteoporosis is a chief cause of fractures in older adults, especially women.
To help limit the effects of osteoporosis, be sure to eat or drink sufficient calcium. Calcium-rich foods include dark green leafy veggies, fish and shellfish, broccoli, soybeans, collards and turnip greens, tofu, and dairy. (One caveat about dairy – it is very inflammatory, so if you have an autoimmune disease, allergies or bowel issues of any kind find out if dairy is okay for you.) In addition, consume enough vitamin D to enhance the absorption of calcium into the bloodstream. Vitamin D is formed naturally in the body after exposure to sunlight, but most adults need a supplement, especially now in the cooler months when we are more covered up. If you’d like to find out what your vitamin D level is, call my office.
Perform a Home Safety Check
At least one-third of all falls involve hazards within the home. The most common falls occur when people trip over objects on the floor.
- Remove throw rugs.
- Secure carpet edges.
- Remove low furniture and objects on the floor.
- Reduce clutter.
- Remove cords and wires on the floor.
- Check for adequate lighting at night (especially along the path to the bathroom).
- Secure carpet or treads on stairs.
- Install handrails on staircases.
- Eliminate chairs that are too low to sit in and get out of easily.
- Do not wax your floors – or use nonskid wax.
- Ensure the telephone can be reached from the floor.
- Install grab bars in the bathtub/shower and by the toilet.
- Use rubber mats in the bathtub/shower.
- Pick up floor mats when you are not using the bathtub/ shower to avoid tripping over them.
- Install a raised toilet seat.
- Repair cracked sidewalks.
- Install handrails on stairs and steps.
- Trim shrubbery along the pathway to the home.
- Install adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways leading to doors
Falls don’t have to be a part of getting older. You have the power to stay securely on your feet. A physical activity program, lifestyle changes and home improvements may further reduce your risk. Also, be aware that dehydration contributes to falls, and make sure you drink adequate amounts of water every day.
If you do find yourself falling, you can try to reduce your risk of serious injury. If possible, fall forward on your hands or land on your buttocks — try to protect your head from striking furniture or the floor. If you live alone and are afraid no one will help you if you fall, ask someone to check on you once a day or consider paying for an emergency-monitoring company that responds to your call for help 24 hours a day.