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4 Ways a Physical Therapist Helps Seniors Prevent Falls

Falls are a leading cause of injury in people over age 65, causing some seniors to lose their independence or develop more serious medical conditions. If you are a senior, it’s important you take steps to prevent falls and improve your personal safety. Physical therapists, who specialize in helping the body move and function, can use exercise and other therapies to help you prevent falls.

Physical Therapy Techniques for Fall Prevention

Woman running on beachYour physical therapist addresses all your risk factors for falls. He or she may provide services such as:

Individualized Exercise Programs

An individualized exercise program helps improve your strength, balance and flexibility. It can also help improve certain risk factors for falls, such as:

  • Poor balance
  • Weak leg muscles
  • Vision problems
  • Peripheral neuropathy

Certain prescription medicines can also affect your balance.

Your physical therapists will create an exercise program designed especially for you and your body. Your program might include one or more of these exercises:

  • Weight training
  • Dance steps
  • Walking in circles or figure-8s
  • Obstacle courses
  • Walking sessions to improve endurance

You might participate in these exercises at a physical therapy location or at home, depending on your abilities. Your exercise program is designed to be safe and effective. Always follow your physical therapist’s recommendations to ensure your safety.

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices like canes and walkers can help prevent falls. Your physical therapists can help you decide if you need and assistive device, take measurements to ensure you get the right one and teach you how to use the device safely.

Home Risk Assessment

Certain aspects of your home and home decor may increase your risk for falls. Your physical therapist can help you make your home safer using a home risk assessment. During the assessment, the physical therapist may encourage you to make small changes to your home, such as:

  • Removing rugs or add nonskid rug liners
  • Reorganizing the kitchen or closets so commonly used items are easy to reach
  • Ensuring all stairs have handrails on both sides
  • Adding lighting to make it easier to see
  • Placing grab bars in the bathroom to make it easier to stand up

Fall Prevention Resources

Your physical therapist will use a multidisciplinary approach to preventing falls by connecting you with other health professionals who can help. These professionals may include:

  • Optometrists or ophthalmologists for vision concerns
  • Pharmacists for balance issues related to medicines
  • Ear, nose and throat physicians for inner-ear balance problems
  • Cardiologists for heart and vascular programs that affect balance
  • Orthopedic surgeons for bone and muscle conditions

Your physical therapist can also connect you to community resources, such as the Richmond Office on Aging and Persons with Disabilities or The Capital Area Agency on Aging. Through these organizations, you can find many free programs and resources to support seniors.

Bon Secours physical therapists in Richmond provide personalized programs for seniors at our locations throughout Richmond. Find out if our Balance and Fall Prevention program can help you live safer.