Have you noticed a decrease in your walking speed?
Are you having problems putting on your pants while standing up?
Do you notice a tendency to reach for a wall, sofa, or chair when you navigating yourself around your home (something we Physical Therapist call furniture surfing)?
Do you find yourself having a hard time raising yourself up from your dining room chair, loveseat, or commode? Do you have to use your arms to lift yourself up from a sitting positon?
Do people hear you when you walk because you are unable to pick up your feet sufficiently to clear the floor? Do you occasionally catch your toe when you walk?
Would you be able to get yourself off the floor in the unfortunate event you were to fall?
If you answered yes to any or all the above questions, you may very well be at risk of falling. In the Physical Therapy clinic a licensed clinician may likely run one of several tests to identify potential deficits putting you at risk of falling.
Many individual are not aware that the speed at which you walk is considered a vital sign, similar to blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing rate and body temperature. Studies have found that walking too slow places you at risk of falling. Walking at less than 1.0 meters/second is threshold that identifies an individual of being a potential fall risk. Walking at a speed less than 0.6 meters/seconds places an individual at a greater risk of being hospitalized! If a hospitalized patient is identified walking at a speed of 0.1 meters/second, they would likely be discharged to a Skilled Nursing Home rather than to their comfortable home.
If you answered yes to having a difficult time standing up while putting on your pants, you may be interested in knowing that If you are unable to stand on a single leg for a full 5 seconds, you are considered a fall risk. A “normal” length of time for a 65 year old individual is 26.9 seconds of single leg standing!
For those finding themselves having a difficult time getting up from a chair without the use of their arms, you at risk of falling! A healthy 65 year old male should be able to raise themselves up from a standard height chair at least 12 repetitions within 30 seconds. A female of 65 years of age should be able to raise themselves at least 11 repetitions within 30 seconds. Leg strength is often correlated with life longevity, the stronger your legs, the longer life you may anticipate. I often remind my patients that their legs were designed to support their body weight when up and walking, not your arms.
Getting off the floor difficult? One study found nearly 40% of seniors were unable to raise themselves off the floor unassisted, another study found the inability to get off the floor unassisted resulted in a considerable increase in mortality rate! Stay active and strong.