Catherine F. Shearer, PT, MPA, GCS, is a therapy research educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Falls are not a natural part of aging. Anyone can fall. I tripped up the stairs the other day, landing on my hands and knees. Fortunately, I bruised only my shin and my pride. Unfortunately, as you age the results may be more serious. You are at higher risk of falling again within a year after you fall once.

Many of the people I work with are worried about falling. Because they are worried, they limit their activity and then become weaker and more unsteady. It’s really important to maintain your current level of activity as you age – even if it means making some adjustments like using a cane or other device.

Free Fall Prevention Classes Offered in Vermont

September 22, the first day of fall, is Fall Prevention Awareness Day. The Vermont American Physical Therapy Association is offering fall prevention screenings all across the state in support of Fall Prevention. A physical therapist (PT) will help guide you through some basic tests at these screenings to assess your risk of falling. You can see the complete list of sites offering screenings here. The Falls Free Vermont Coalition has other resources, as well, to help assess your fall risk.

Stay tuned to Across the Fence on September 22! The focus of the show that day will be Fall Prevention, and will feature Maggie Holt, PT, and Dr. Rosy Hill. The program airs weekdays at 12:10 p.m. on WCAX-TV, Channel 3. To watch the episode at a later date, click here.

How To Prevent Falls

Many falls can be prevented by:

  • Getting regular check-ups with your doctor.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure.
  • Reviewing your medications regularly with your health care provider. Some medications place you at higher risk for falling and you will want to avoid those.
  • Reducing clutter or other obstacles in your home.
  • Having your vision checked every year.

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if:

  • You have had a fall. Don’t be embarrassed – please let your doctor or physical therapist know!
  • You feel dizzy when you turn your head.
  • You can’t rise from a chair without using your arms.

Don’t wait until you fall to take action. Falls are much easier to prevent than to recover!

The University of Vermont Medical Center Rehabilitation Therapies, in collaboration with the Greater Burlington YMCA, will be offering an exercise class for older adults starting in October. Call (802) 847-7012 for more information.

Catherine F. Shearer, PT, MPA, GCS, is a therapy research educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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