Fear of Falling in Seniors – Ready, Steady, Go!

Fear of falling in seniors is a problem that affects the quality of life of many seniors. Around 40-70% of people aged 60+ who have fallen, fear falling again. The recovery process was so challenging, that it left the seniors worried how they could manage if it would happen again.

Fear of falling and of losing one’s independence also happens in seniors who have not fallen.

Where does Fear of Falling in Seniors Rear its Head?

A study looked at how many seniors experienced fear of falling at home, versus how many experienced it within a social setting.

Of the people included in the study, around double the number of people reported fear of falling in a community setting. However, the participants who had fear of falling in their home environment, had more issues from their physical abilities and wellness. They were substantially less able to function personally and socially.

The study was used to help understand which people who have fear of falling, need to receive rehabilitation and support. The conclusion: any assessment of a senior’s fear of falling, must consider where the fear presents itself.

 

The Effects of Fear of Falling on Quality of Life

The negative affects of the fear include the following:

  • Experiencing a sense of perpetual fear
  • Activity restriction – even from safe activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Reduced ability for activities of daily living
  • Less independence

 

How to Respond to The Fear in a Healthy Way

A person who fears that they may fall should:

  1. Discuss their ability to balance properly with their doctor
  2. Be up to date with their vision care
  3. Be aware of any weak muscles and treat them
  4. Find out about Pilates, yoga and tai chi exercise groups
  5. Treat the anxiety, itself

 

After doing ‘due diligence’, a senior can take steps to remedy any ability that they can. They might buy special supportive shoes, begin to use a cane or a frame, do physiotherapy or gait training and so on.

Go for walks with physical support, in the form of a sturdy relative or frame. Exercise in a manner that you will not fall – such as swimming or aqua groups.

Here we may apply the idiom, a stitch in time, saves nine. Deal with smaller issues earlier and don’t wait. Use the fear to prompt active responses. Fear, used correctly leads to action. If allowed to marinate, fear will only breed more fear.

 

Does Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Fear of Falling Rehab?

Medicare can cover the cost of care for falls, including preventative care and doctor’s visits.

Medicare support  for prevention of falls is partial, depending on the situation.

Medicaid may cover home modifications, special exercise programs for fall prevention.

Falls do cost insurance a large sum that is why it is worthwhile for insurance to support fall prevention strategies.

 

Fear of falling in seniors, should be addressed. Seniors thrive on independence. The greatest kindness a medical team can do to a patient is to help him or her get their independence. Seniors need not live with anxiety, from fear of falling.

 

It’s all in the mind?

Researchers in Sydney found that their participants aged 70-90, had mind-over-matter responses. Some participants had fall-profiles that would predict a fall would probably happen. However, the participants did not see themselves as people who would fall.

And they did not fall as much as the other groups did. The research suggested the following reasons:

  • They thought they had a lower risk of falling
  • Therefore, they engaged in a good amount of physical activity
  • As a result they retained their strength and stability.

The conclusion: Preventative action against fear of falling in seniors, need to focus more on the psychological side of the phenomenon, not only on the physical aspects.

 

fear of falling in seniors - pushing the limits

Although it is true that seniors many not be quite like they used to be – they can still try to push the limits!

 

Photo by Ryan Tauss on Unsplash

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