Spring is here and older adults can start enjoying the outdoors again. However, though this is the best time to get out the exercise, seniors are often restricted by the fear of falling. So it’s hardly surprising that New York health care centers are reporting a rise in enrolment in their elderly fall prevention programs. These well-coordinated individualized programs are designed to address balance, gait, and mobility disorders in seniors and maximize their independence through exercise, education, prevention and a healthy lifestyle.
Multiple Factors responsible for Balance Disorders
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year. Early detection of gait and balance disorders and appropriate interventions can prevent loss of mobility and independence. Many factors can cause gait and balance disorders and a comprehensive assessment is necessary to determine the underlying causes and appropriate interventions. For instance, older adults may experience mobility and balance problems because of hip or knee pain, which may be caused by wear and tear, injury, or simple genetic predisposition. Also, many medical conditions can cause pain, reduced strength, limited range of motion, poor posture, decreased sensory perception, and fatigue and increase the risk of balance problems. Therefore, a slip and fall prevention program would begin with identifying the root causes of the gait and balance problem.
Falls Prevention Program – Thorough Evaluation and Targeted Interventions
Evaluation would begin with a careful review of medical history and medications, and tests to determine the person’s mobility status and functional level. Specific clinical tests may be conducted to evaluate the existing impairment, balance and postural stability. As part of the initial risk assessment, the physician may order blood tests and other lab tests to arrive at a clear diagnosis. The patient will also be asked about environmental factors that may contribute to fall risks at home and their physical surroundings.
As most gait and balance disorders in the elderly involve or depend on a number of factors, especially genetic or environmental factors, several treatment modalities may be necessary to address gait and balance disorders. A fall prevention program would involve targeted interventions to restore or improve mobility and also reduce incidence of falls, fear of falling, weight-bearing pain, and overall mobility issues.
In a professional New York healthcare center, physical therapists play an important role in the evaluation and treatment of older adults with gait and balance disorders. They develop individualized plans to address the identified functional limitations which will include special exercise programs to target strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.
Don’t let gait and balance disorders limit your ability to enjoy the outdoors – enroll in a Fall Risk Assessment and Conditioning Program in a health care center near you today!