Q: I have had one total knee replacement surgery and in the future will require the other knee to be replaced and possibly one hip surgery as well. I’ve had a few falls but fortunately was not injured other than bruises. I have made suggested changes within my house to reduce as many hazards as possible, added a ramp to the front entrance and use the walk in shower as opposed to getting into the tub. What scares me more than falling is the difficulty I have in getting up once I am down on the floor. I heard about a Fall Prevention Program but I’m not sure if this is what I need. What do you think?
A: The first suggestion is to encourage you to follow up with your primary care physician or orthopedic specialist to determine exactly why you are falling. It may be directly connected to the deterioration of joints or it could be totally unrelated. Once you have scheduled an appointment try to remember how you felt before experiencing a fall…were you dizzy or weak, were you feeling anxious and worried about falling or were you just distracted? In some instances fear of falling can result in the act itself.
It is reported 25% of individuals over the age of 65 fall each year, those falls are the #1 cause of injuries for this age category. Falls typically are caused by a combination of risk factors. Hazards within the home are obvious indicators of the likelihood of falling. People should also be aware of the risks related to poor vision, improper footwear, Vitamin D deficiency, or medications that can cause dizziness or impact a person’s balance. Physicians are strongly encouraged to assess their patients for potential fall risks.
A Matter of Balance, an evidence-based falls management program, would be of great benefit to you. Even though you have taken measures to reduce some risks there is probably more you can do and learn about reducing falls in the future. “A Matter of Balance is an 8 week structured group intervention that emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels.” Those participating in the program become aware falls and fear of falling in many instances may be controllable, they learn to set realistic goals and become familiar with exercises to increase strength and balance. There is also an option of meeting with a health coach for one on one sessions in the home if a person is unable to attend sessions in the community. To speak with someone about program schedules contact the Healthy Living Center of Excellence Department at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley at 978-946-1211 or visit our website at www.healthylivng4me.org
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.