The Fear of Falling

Guest blogger Colorado State University and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Falling can cause major issues for older adults. Injuries can range from an ankle sprain to a traumatic brain injury. These injuries can lead to high direct medical costs and indirect medical costs. Not only that, but it can lead to an increase in fall risk factors.

“Fear of falling often develops after experiencing a fall” (Tomita et al.).The same study shows that even one fall can lead to developing fear. There is a vicious circle that is associated with the fear of falling that can be hard to break without intervention. “Fear of falling is associated with negative physical and psychosocial health outcomes, including depression and
activity restriction” (Lee, Oh and Hong 2018). Once an older adult obtains this fear, the less likely they are willing to participate in activities such as exercise or even leaving their house. This can lead to weakened muscles and depression. Which in turn are more risk factors for older adults.

A team of therapists including occupational and physical therapists can help to overcome the fear of falling. Occupational therapists can assess the home for safety, both occupational and physical therapists can do a fall risk assessment on the client, and both can create a plan to address risk factors. They can suggest home modifications, address risk factors around the house, see how the patient gets around their home, and giving the patient exercises to build strength and work on balance. As the American Occupational Therapy Association’s page says, “Identifying environmental factors that contribute to falls and implementing the occupational therapy strategies to ameliorate these elements can improve safety and reduce health care costs while enhancing the participation of older adults in those communities.”

In order to keep older adults independent, it is important to have them assessed to find their risk factors. Each individual is unique, and so are their needs. Therapists working together can help to improve the quality of life by addressing fall risk in our loved ones.

For more information on Home Safety or Fall Risk Assessments call Covell Care & Rehabilitation at 970.204.4331.

Citations:
Lee, Seonhye, et al. “Comparison of Factors Associated with Fear of Falling between Older Adults with and without a Fall History.” International Journal of Environmental Research
and Public Health, vol. 15, no. 5, May 2018, p. 982., doi:10.3390/ijerph15050982.
Tomita, Yoshihito, et al. “Prevalence of Fear of Falling and Associated Factors among Japanese Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” Medicine, vol. 97, no. 4, Jan. 2018, doi:10.1097/md.0000000000009721.
Toto, Pamela. “Occupational Therapy and Prevention of Falls.” Aota.org, American
Occupational Therapy Association, 2017, www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/PA/Facts/Fall-Prevention.aspx.