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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Norfolk Council on Aging Hosts Fall Prevention Program

Physical therapist Allison Bloom led a fall prevention program at the Norfolk Senior Center on December 9.

By Grace Allen
 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million older adults visit the emergency room each year for injuries resulting from a fall. Close to 300,000 of those falls result in hip fractures, and the potential adverse effects are numerous. Aside from prolonged immobility and related complications (such as blood clots and loss of muscle mass), about half of those who sustain hip fractures never regain the same levels of independence that they may have had before. 
On December 9, the Norfolk Council on Aging held a fall prevention program at the town’s senior center. Allison Bloom, a physical therapist at Personal Best Physical Therapy in Norfolk, discussed fall risk factors and presented ways seniors can try to prevent falls in the first place.
“There are some risk factors you can change, and others you cannot,” she emphasized, noting that certain medications, eye impairments, balance issues, ill-fitting footwear, and multiple chronic conditions may make some seniors more at risk for a fall. 
While the best way to prevent falls in the first place is to maintain physical activity and basic muscle strength, Bloom said there are practical steps seniors (and anyone) can take to make their homes safer. Her tips include:
• Remove excess clutter, including area rugs and cords. These present a tripping hazard. “A clean space is safer,” noted Bloom.
• Raised thresholds between rooms should be removed, if possible.
• Bathrooms should have grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower. One of the most common places to fall is in the bathroom because floors can be slippery.
• Add night lights to rooms and hallways.
• Bed assist bars or rails can be used to make getting out of bed safer by providing balance and stability.
Another factor in falls is sudden dizziness from changing positions too quickly. Bloom stressed that it’s important to avoid going too quickly from lying to sitting or standing.
“Take a few extra moments to get your bearing. I like to say you’re making sure your marbles are settled up there before moving to the next position,” she explained.
Bloom also discussed in detail how to safely go up and down stairs or any hilly surface outdoors. 
What if you do end up falling despite all your precautions? As long as you are not seriously injured, Bloom recommends trying to get into a kneeling position first. Then bring one foot in front of the other by getting into a half-kneeling stance before trying to rise to standing. If there is a sturdy object or chair next to you, try pushing down with your arms on the chair while pushing up to standing.
Fall mitigation strategies can include the use of aids such as canes, walkers, and rollators. Bloom discussed how to size and use these devices safely. Assisting Bloom was Kyle Martinis, the owner of Personal Best Physical Therapy, who demonstrated how to use each item correctly.
Public health nurse Jeanine Murphy, also at the presentation, said her office had an ample supply of these devices and other equipment to loan out and urged people to contact her for more information. Murphy can be reached at 508-384-5485 or by email at [email protected]