According to the CDC, 1 out of every 3 adults over 65 has a fall. The reasons behind this number are numerous: a slowing down of reflexes, decreased flexibility in the ankle and foot, changes in body mass distribution, loss of muscle strength in the lower legs, loss of sensation at the bottom of the foot, changes in vision, and other medical issues, such as drug-related dizziness and confusion.
Falls can cause both fatal and nonfatal injuries and are a major focus of rehabilitation for older adults – no matter what the diagnosis. Good balance is needed for getting in and out of a bathtub, stepping over an obstacle, going up and down the stairs, remaining standing if you are pushed (think about a crowded NYC subway), and stepping onto a slippery surface.
It is important to try and maintain as safe an environment as possible: make sure that your floors at home are clear of any obstacles (e.g. rugs, electrical cords) over which you may trip, make sure that your rugs don’t slip easily on the ground (a rug grip can help), and keep night lights on, especially in the most cluttered parts of your home, so that you can easily navigate past potential obstacles.
If you are experiencing loss of balance, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor to see if any of the medications you are taking may be contributing to this. If not, see a physical therapist who would be able to diagnose your specific balance issues and help you improve them in order to be safer in the streets and at home.