Column 2 – A Nasty Cycle

January 8, 2019

Having fear about some things can keep us safe, like the fear of being hit by a car when crossing a street, however, fear can contribute poorly to our lives. I am certain many of us can relate to our own fear stopping us from doing something and we should absolutely listen to that voice of fear, but other times that voice of fear can be hurting us more than we know. I will get to the point now. The fear of falling actually contributes to our risk of falling.

We need to think about the fact that if an older person is restricted too much from having walks or going to the bathroom then we can actually be increasing their odds on falling when they do get up. That is why patients are encouraged to get up as soon as possible after surgery or an illness. The longer we do not stand, or walk, or sit up on our own, then the longer we may hesitate to do these things and our bodies are more ready to fall.

Some people may stop attempting to do things they used to do regularly. Things like taking the time to make a healthy soup instead of just toast or a sandwich for many meals. Maybe leaving laundry to pile up instead of putting on a load when there is enough to do wash. Other things like going to another room or another level in the home to do something socially or entertaining during the day.

There are other factors that can change our patterns in life. Factors such as our eyes not working like they used to, not feeling as well as we once did, or maybe fatigued from that new medication we take. These aspects of our life combined with a fear of falling will really take a toll on us. Our fear of falling can come alive if we have a fall, even if no serious injury comes from it. A fall is an unkind reminder that we are not always in control and something nasty can happen in a flash. Sadly, if we do not address this fear it can make us stop doing things we used to do. When we stop doing things we used to do, other aspects of our life can be affected in a bad way. We stop moving around as much, we stop going out as much and then we stop socializing as much. When we stop moving and we stop socializing our quality of life and our health are affected negatively in a big way. The small joys of having a good conversation, being a part of something, feeling well, eating well, and feeling needed can be stripped slowly away.

Research has been carried out on studying how the fear of falling increases the risk of falling. We know that more needs to be done and it is clear that it is a problem and one that we can work toward addressing ourselves through talking about it and acknowledging that it is an issue. Working towards reducing the risks that are around us that could contribute to us falling is an important step (pun intended). No, falling is not a normal part of ageing, but it certainly affects us more as we age. We need to be very careful that we are not avoiding the very things we need to do to reduce our risk of falling or being seriously hurt by a fall. Start or join a walking group, walking is good at any speed. Using walking aids is not something to restrict us, they are there to keep us moving and independent. Show that cane, walker or wheelchair off with pride that you are not going to be slowed down to a stop! Speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are feeling unsafe when walking so you can work together to correct the issue. There are resources and help please use them and keeping moving.

Posted in Blog.