WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — We’ve all seen the life alert commercials with the phrase “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and the reality is this can happen to anyone.
It’s a balancing act to stay healthy.
“I think that being honest with themselves about deficits they’re seeing as they get older and being evaluated and addressing those with their primary care physician is a primary way to address and prevent falls,” United Regional Trauma Medical Director Alan Coleman said.
Coleman said one out of every three to four people in the elderly population, so 65 and older, fall each year. He said if they fall, they’re two to three times more likely to fall again in the same year.
“Not all traumatic injuries happen as a result of falls, however, out of all of those falls about one in five or so actually leads to a traumatic injury, and by traumatic injuries, I mean hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries which are the highest injury incident,” Coleman said.
If you do take a fall though, don’t panic.
“If they fall and they’re conscious, the first thing I recommend is evaluating themselves to see if they hurt anywhere in particular, if certain things hurt then try not to move if they feel comfortable at that point then crawling to a stable surface to help assist themselves in getting up is helpful,” Coleman said. “Carrying your cell phone around the house is always helpful because then it gives them easy access wherever they land to be able to call for help.”
The risk of falling comes from many things. Maybe it’s a change in blood pressure and heart rate or it could be your balance.
“Balance is not just one thing or another, it’s it’s a multitude of things that lead to it,” United Regional Director of Rehabilitation, Wound Care & Sports Medicine Services Travis Newberry said. “So if you do, if anyone feels like they are unsafe or they might fall, oftentimes anxiety will make people do less, which is counterproductive to their long-term stability.”
Less isn’t more in this case, Newberry said keeping active ensures you can stand on your own two feet.
“The most common misconception is if I feel dizzy or less stable than this, do less, then I’ll be okay with that, that just simply means that your system gets less and less used to challenges,” Newberry said. “So I’ve seen patients that are elderly who have poor balance, I’ve seen people who are not elderly who have poor balance and inversely I’ve seen very elderly patients with great balance and those almost two and one, if an elderly person has great balance, they always are very active.”
Balance has to do with vision, your inner ear and how you view your foot in relation to the ground. If you notice changes in these things or your body strength, it’s time for a doctor’s visit.
“If you start to notice that you’re having weakness, evaluation by your primary care physician or seeing a physical therapist are helpful cause they can recommend certain medical devices like walkers and canes to help with mobility,” Coleman said. “Sometimes weakness in the lower extremities, in particular, are sometimes the result of not using those muscles and so they can recommend strengthening exercises.”
The more you move, the better your balance and the lower your risk of falling.
United Regional’s Transition Clinic on 11th street has information pamphlets that focus on topics like fall prevention and the benefits of staying active.