An elderly person's fear of falling can actually exacerbate underlying physical conditions, creating a “vicious circle,” which could lead to a greater risk of falling, according to a new report.
Difficulty walking as a result of old age often have many causes. These can include visual defects, degeneration of motor skills, taking medication or drinking alcohol, and anxiety over falls. Elderly individuals who are afraid of falling typically restrict their own movements, inadvertently worsening the physical conditions they may have, and contributing to a greater risk of falls.
When treating the elderly for gait disturbances of any kind, it is important to correctly identify the underlying cause of the disturbance and tailor any therapies to that cause, researchers say. Their paper, “Gait Disturbances in Old Age: Classification, Diagnosis, and Treatment From a Neurological Perspective,” outlines diagnostic and treatment techniques, and is available online in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International .
I can say firsthand that this is certainly the case with my mom. She is in constant fear of falling. And some of it is justifiable for sure. I'm not sure how you lessen the anxiety. One way perhaps and something I tell my clients to offer is training in balance techniques. A few years ago my wife and I had the good fortune to go to Canyon Ranch in Arizona. We took a balance class. It was interesting. They encouraged us to get a simple 2x4 at home and perhaps during television commercials practice standing and balancing on it. Of course we didn't but I can see how over time this will demonstratively help people. Keeping your balance is one step in preventing falls. And maybe a class like that will also reduce the anxiety people have as well.