Foot Care to Prevent Falls

Accidental falls are one of the most damaging medical problems facing older adults today. The numbers are truly staggering.

By frequency:

  • Approximately one third of all seniors (65+) will fall at least once this year.
  • More than half of all seniors 80 and older will fall.
  • Two thirds of seniors who fall will fall again within six months

Podiatrist

By severity:

  • One out of five falls will produce a serious injury—broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, etc.
  • Falls are responsible for more than 3 million ER visits and 800,000 hospitalizations.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among seniors, with about 10,000 fatalities per year associated with falls.
  • One in four seniors who fracture a hip during a fall die within six months.

For many seniors, that one bad fall could be the start of a significant and permanent reduction in your quality of life, mobility, and independence.

And even minor falls can leave psychological scars. The fear of falling again may keep you from exercising and doing what you love—which in turn leaves you weaker, less mobile, and less healthy overall.

But severe falls are also very often preventable. And your foot specialist is an important member of your medical team who can help reduce your risk.

How Your Podiatrist Can Help

Most falls are the result of a combination of risk factors—medical and environmental. Foot and ankle issues are a frequent contributor to this dangerous mix of underlying causes.

There are many ways we can help.

Relief for Chronic Foot Pain and Deformities

Foot pain of all kinds—heel pain, ankle pain, arch pain, etc.—can increase your risk of falling, both directly and indirectly.

Studies have repeatedly shown that foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, flat arches, and even corns and calluses can compromise balance and stability in older adults.

As foot and ankle care experts, the Trinity Foot Center team is uniquely qualified to address these nagging foot problems. We offer effective conservative care options like physical therapy exercises and custom orthotics, and also provide surgical treatment when necessary.

Prevention

 

Diabetic Foot Care

A significant percentage of seniors are living with diabetes, or are at high risk of developing it. Diabetes and related metabolic conditions can significantly damage your feet and reduce your sense of balance and stability.

Peripheral neuropathy in the feet is a very common diabetic foot complication and can cause you to lose all sensation in your feet. This puts you at much higher risk of accidental trips, falls, and ulcerations on your feet. Unfortunately, long-term nerve damage is usually not reversible, so it’s extremely important to take care of yourself now and seek help before symptoms become severe.

We provide a wide variety of treatments and preventative care options for our patients with diabetic foot problems. This includes prescribing diabetic shoes to protect your feet, medications that can alleviate nerve pain, and in-office wound care for most foot ulcers.

Fall Risk Assessment

If you’ve already fallen—or fear that you might in the near future—we are happy to perform a fall risk assessment.

Essentially, we’ll take a close look at how the most common falling risk factors associated with foot and ankle biomechanics are affecting you—your walking gait, your foot structure, the shoes that you wear, any symptoms you might be experiencing, etc.

Other Fall Prevention Tips

Follow these suggestions to help reduce your risk of falling—and preserve your mobility and independence as long as possible.

  • Get your eyes and ears checked. Poor vision or hearing make it harder to detect environmental hazards and obstacles.
  • Visit your general practitioner. Many other medical conditions or even drug interactions can contribute to fall risk (vertigo, Parkinson’s, history of stroke, etc.). Make sure you get regular check-ups.
  • Clean up clutter. Make sure your home environment is safe to move around in without tripping hazards. Low lying clutter such as furniture, piles of clothes or magazines, cords, etc. should be removed. Walkways should be clear.
  • Make sure your home is well lit. Always hit the lights before walking into a dark room. Install night lights in as necessary.
  • Install grab bars or handrails where necessary. For example, in the shower and near the toilet, and along staircases.
  • Minimize trips up and down the stairs. You might consider moving your sleeping area to the main floor. Install ramps or chair lifts if necessary.
  • Keep everyday items close at hand. Dishes, clothing, and other items you have to access regularly should be stored where you don’t have to bend low or reach up high.
  • Secure loose rugs and mats. Use no-slip mats in the bathroom, and secure rugs with tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.
  • Stay active. Stretch, exercise, and practice your balance as much as you are safely able. If you don’t use it, you will lose it!

If you are currently experiencing foot pain, haven’t had a diabetic foot checkup in the last year, or have any other associated foot and ankle-related risk factors for falling, please call Trinity Foot Center in DeSoto, TX today to schedule your appointment. We will do everything we can to keep you on your feet! Dial (972) 293-9650.


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