Before someone is even aware they have a balance problem, their behavior is very often speaking to them. It starts as a whisper.
“Typically what will happen is a person may develop some fear of falling and instead of looking into the problem or trying to push themselves a little bit to find out how they could get better they start limiting their activities,” says Nathalie Grondin, a physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Before you know it, they start pulling back from things they love.
“‘Oh my gosh I don’t do any yard work anymore because I have to deal with the grass’,” says Grondin.
Balance issues are more pronounced when someone changes surfaces. For example going from sidewalk to grass or stepping off a curb.
Diminishing strength is a key contributor. It leaves hints that tell us our balance is failing.
“As we get older in the 60s and 70s many people lose strength to the point where they can’t stand up without struggling, they can’t get up off the floor and things like that,” says Grondin.
Avoiding a fall is extremely important to the elderly.
“If you fall down and you break a hip the chances of ending up in a nursing home are about 50%,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.
Suffering a fall can begin a downward slide. Falls are the number one cause of injury death in people over 65.
“Those people have much more complications, serious complications or prolonged hospitalizations and even death as a result of a hip fracture. So falls are really a significant problem in the population in general,” says Dr. Lacagnina.
Lee Memorial Health System offers free, monthly balance screenings, meant to help people side step a life changing fall.