House Calls

FALL 2016

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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W hen flitting about tidying up for holiday houseguests, a potential trip or fall is likely the furthest thing from your mind. Yet every year, 2.8 million American seniors head to the ER after a fall, making it the most common cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries for older adults, according to the National Council on Aging. Physical therapist Patricia Dalpiaz, who is a member of the Falls Team for Roper St. Francis Home Care Services, explains why falls are more common among older adults: "As we age, we lose muscular strength, our reflexes slow, and the inner ear system that tells our body its position in space loses cells. It's a combination of factors that make it more difficult to react to an unexpected change in balance." And potential health conditions like vitamin D deficiency and poor vision can exacerbate this risk even more. While most accidents result in pesky bumps and bruises, 20 percent of falls cause serious injury, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic brain injury is common, and since bones lose density with age, so are breaks and fractures. Even when the physical consequences are mild, falls can have lasting psychological effects. "Many people become fearful," Dalpiaz explains, "and the fear of falling can cause them to limit their daily activities, which has detrimental effects on quality of life." Fortunately, it's easy to minimize your risk of stumbling in the first place. "Falling is not an inevitable result of aging," says Dalpiaz. Strengthening activities like Tai Chi increase coordination while courses like Roper St. Francis Advantage Program's "Matter of Balance" (see below) teach practical intervention strategies to reduce one's risk. On a day-to-day basis, ditch the flip-flops and slippers in favor of non-skid shoes that fully support your feet, use handrails, and keep your eyes peeled for uneven surfaces. And, as always, be conscious of your general health. "The best ways to reduce your risk of falling are to maintain a proper diet, exercise frequently, and have regular check-ups with your doctor," says Dalpiaz. 14 { fall 2016 } h o u s e c a l l s senior health Get Grounded Don't let a fall sideline you this season. A Roper St. Francis home care specialist shares how to minimize your risk of taking a spill - J A C Q U I C A L L O W A Y Fall-Proof Your Pad According to Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, 55 percent of falls happen at home. To minimize your risk, Dalpiaz says to take extra precaution around tricky areas like doorways and transitions from carpet to tile. Here, she shares additional how-tos: Rise and shine. "When you wake up, sit on the side of your bed for a few moments to get your bearings before standing, particularly in the middle of the night," Dalpiaz advises. 2 Let go of clutter. Toss stacks of old papers, magazines, and other tripping hazards, and consider removing throw rugs from throughout the house. 3 Look sharp. Double-check your eyewear before leaving home. Glasses are useful, but beware of bifocals. "They can make things appear falsely near or far when you are walking outside," Dalpiaz says. Beef Up Your Balance For those who have a higher risk of falling (risk factors include having sensory problems, muscle weakness, or a history of falls), the Roper St. Francis Advantage Program offers classes to help you improve your balance: Fall Proof and Balance: a 12-week program that assesses and treats balance-related problems to improve balance and mobility. (Lowcountry Senior Center; 60-minute classes, twice a week) Matter of Balance: an eight-week class teaching strategies to reduce one's fear and risk of falling. (Lowcountry Senior Center and Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital; two-hour classes, once a week) Visit www.rs.com/advantage for more information.

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