Published on September 21, 2013 at 4:46 AM
"As people do less, they become less able to engage in activities. They have difficulty moving around, and their gait and balance deteriorates. This puts them at an increased risk of falling, which unfortunately means the fear of falling actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."
It's important that nursing home staff members recognize that about half of residents have such a deep fear of falling that they limit their activities, and develop a way to assuage those fears. Exercise programs offered in a safe and supportive environment can be valuable in helping residents feel better - both physically and psychologically, Lach said.
Senior adults who aren't in long term care facilities also may need to confront their fear of falling, she added. Tai Chi, walking, weight training and simple exercises to increase muscle strength - such as practicing sitting and standing to strengthen leg muscles or standing on one foot with a chair at arm's reach - make a world of difference.
"Falls can cause problems," Lach said, "but so can the fear of falling."
Source: Saint Louis University School of Nursing