The Rising Costs of Falling Down - Can You Protect Your Body?

     In 2000, the CDC estimated that the Medicaid costs associated with adult falls was $19 billion. By 2015, that number had ballooned to $32 billion. Nearly a million older adults are hospitalized each year due to injuries sustained from a fall, and the average cost for a hospital visit: $30,000. But these are hard medical costs. What about the other costs?

  • The price that a person pays to rehabilitate after an injury.
  • The cost to adjust one's home and schedule to accommodate for slower, more careful movement. 
  • The cost of lost income and productivity.
  • The price of not living the same kind of life. Of being fearful that another fall might occur.

Quality of Life
     This last one seems to hurt the most, because it's the paralyzing fear that alters the quality of life that older people live. Going out for a walk, meeting friends for dinner, traveling with family, and attending cultural events abruptly halt for many older people recently injured by falls, or close calls. But even getting around at home can change dramatically. Less gardening and yard work, less going up and coming down the stairs, some don't even want to get out of bed for a trip to the bathroom. 

Functional Survival
     Survival training is generally associated with boot camp workouts and other intensive movements. But Functional Survival is the how inSHAPE describes exercises that help prevent falls. This programming blends into other elements of our exercise regimens, but not just with our older clients (and we work with several in their 80's and one who is turning 90 this year). Younger adults need specific movements to prevent the degradation of body parts that stabilize the body. The Wall St. Journal reported earlier this year that people as young as 19 years old, show signs of structural aging due to sedentary life. Click here to download the article. Functional Survival is important for everyone.

     Functional Survival doesn't require a gym or any special equipment. The basis tenets are stability and strength of the head and neck, the flexibility of the trunk, the response of the hips and legs, and the practice of going down and getting up. 

  • Equilibrium and posture are important elements of strength and stability that decrease the chance of falls. Balance diminishes as people get older (or as the article implies, balance may be problematic for young people too), but simple exercises wake up the vestibular system and the small muscles that support the body.
  • Being able to turn the head and body are of utmost importance in the prevention of falls as well as from injury if a fall occurs. The flexibility of the neck, the middle back, and rotation at the waist are points of practice for this effort. Exercises that support these three areas boost your proprioception, or your knowledge of where your body is in relation to the ground. But also, if you fall, you want to do as much as you can to protect your body. Turning the body to minimize impact, so that you don't fall flat on your back or front, helps. 
  • Finally, you need to be able to get down onto the floor and get up. Even if you need help by way of a table, chair, or the wall. Your hips, legs, and butt were engineered to act as springs. Even rusty, these springs compress to squat down to the ground. The energy they store is released as you get back up, so interacting with gravity is a vital component of these programs no matter what your age.

Falls happen. No two falls are exactly alike, and since no two humans are alike, the fate of two unknowns leaves us with a sense of mystery. But you can do your part. Protect yourself. Take good care of yourself. And get in touch if you need some help.