Myth #1: I have not experienced a fall so it is not an issue for me.
FACT: Each year, one in three people over age 65 experience a fall serious enough to require medical attention. Falls lead to hip fractures and other serious injuries. Learning what to do to prevent your first fall is just as important as learning what to do to if you have fallen in the past.
Myth #2: Falls are just a part of growing older.
FACT: Our bodies change over time, and some of those changes do increase the risk of falling. As people age they may experience problems with their vision, sense of balance, mobility, bone structure and/or reflexes. These issues potentially increase the risk of falling, but these issues can also be addressed therapeutically to decrease the likelihood they will contribute to a fall. Learning how to compensate for any changes in physical functioning is an important step in preventing future falls.
Myth #3: So long as I stick close to home, I can avoid falling.
FACT: Over half of all falls take place right in the person’s home. People become very comfortable in their home and may ignore (or not even be aware of) safety issues in the home that can contribute to falling.
Myth #4: If I have experienced a fall, the best way to prevent falling again is to decrease my activity level, limit my walking and try to sit as much as possible.
FACT: This may be biggest myth of all when it comes to protecting against falls! Inactivity actually increases the risk. After experiencing a fall, you reduce your activity level/decrease walking. This actually causes you to become weaker and possibly decreases your range of motion. As you become weaker, you feel more unstable so you walk even less. This cycle actually makes it more likely that you will fall when you do walk.
Myth #5: For protecting against falls, only balance exercises are effective.
FACT: While balance exercises are important, other types of exercise also contribute to fall prevention. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and increases blood flow to the brain. Strengthening exercise builds muscle. Flexibility exercises help keep us limber.
Myth #6: Muscle strength and flexibility, once lost, can never be regained.
FACT: It is true that as we age, we do experience a decrease in muscle mass/strength and become less limber. But exercise can contribute to restoring some of this loss and help prevent further loss.
Myth #7: To prevent falls, exercise must be strenuous.
FACT: Even a little exercise helps! Simply going for a walk around the block has been proven to have a beneficial effect on a number of body systems including muscle strength, cardiovascular and coordination.
Myth #8: Medications can’t increase the risk of falling.
FACT: It’s true that some medications help protect against falls by treating conditions that increase a person’s risk of falling such as arthritis, osteoporosis and low blood pressure. But the side effects of some medications (including over the counter) can actually put us at greater risk of falling.