March is Balance and Fall Prevention Month for the National Institute for Fitness and Sports (NIFS) Active Aging sites. Although this is an important component of exercise for all age groups year round, NIFS spotlights balance and fall prevention for a month-long program and showcases the various challenges and solutions to balance issues, as well as how to stay ahead of the balance curve.
Our senior living communities provide educational presentations and handouts for residents to help with fall prevention. One such handout is a home safety checklist to ensure that your surroundings are as fall-proof as possible. The Home Safety Checklist can be a great resource to make safe changes around your home by doing things like making sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant, providing good lighting—especially in hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy-traffic areas—and keeping exits and passageways clear. These are just a few of the suggestions. What else has worked for you?
How to Prevent Injuries When Falling
The objective of NIFS Balance Challenge is to prevent falls, but let’s say you suddenly find yourself falling. Remembering these tips and safely practicing how to fall can be the difference between a bruise and a broken bone:
- Never try to prevent the fall itself. Instead, stay relaxed to prevent further injury.
- Bend your knees, or crouch, during a fall.
- Turn/twist your body so you can fall onto the outside of your lower leg first. If you cannot twist your body, NEVER try to catch yourself with your hands as it can break your wrists.
- Instead, smack the ground with your hand(s) to lessen the impact of the fall.
- Roll onto your backside to allow the muscles to dissipate energy and lower the impact force.
Fear is often the biggest obstacle when it comes to falling. Having a game plan and practicing the correct falling form can train your body how to safely fall and maximize injury prevention.
[Read More: How one resident's fall inspired a whole community]
What's Next After You Fall
- After a fall, you are probably feeling shaken up and scared. Take a moment to make sure you are alright and that nothing is broken. Wiggle your fingers and toes and then begin to feel other parts of your body as you regain your bearings. If you are feeling okay, remember these helpful tips for safely getting up from a fall:
- Roll over naturally to your side so your stronger arm is facing up.
- Place your inside arm on the ground at chest level and place your outside palm on the ground to lift your upper body.
- With both hands flat on the ground, lift your hips from the ground so that you are on all fours.
- Crawl to the nearest, most steady piece of furniture (such as a chair, couch, or countertop).
- Place both hands on the furniture and use your stronger leg by placing your foot flat on the ground in front of your body.
- Pull yourself up slowly; sit, if possible.
- Do not let anyone lift you unless they are trained to do so.
- Use your pendant or make noise for help if you cannot get yourself up.
These are just a few of the topics that the professionals at NIFS present at senior living communities across the country. This education folds in well with weekly balance classes and individualized balance exercises that are available year round for seniors.
Download our whitepaper to see how we have evolved our programming in community fitness centers. Residents need more than a simple balance class, do more for your residents. Click below to get started.