Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Don’t let fear of falling freeze you in your tracks

Date:
September 20, 2013
Source:
Saint Louis University Medical Center
Summary:
Half of those in nursing homes fear falling, which can turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

“While falls can cause problems, we want people to be both cautious and still maintain an active quality of life,” Lach said. “You can’t get rid of all of the risk in your life. But older adults need to maintain their strength, function and activity to the level they are able.”
Credit: Kzenon / Fotolia

A Saint Louis University School of Nursing faculty member is going to mark the first day of fall with a simple warning to senior adults: Don’t let fear of falling stand in the way of being active and engaged with the world around you.

Helen Lach, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at SLU, serves on the executive lead team of the Missouri Show Me Falls Free Coalition, a group that works to prevent falls. She specializes in gerontological nursing, and has studied ways to prevent falls for more than 20 years.

“While falls can cause problems, we want people to be both cautious and still maintain an active quality of life,” Lach said. “You can’t get rid of all of the risk in your life. But older adults need to maintain their strength, function and activity to the level they are able.”

Lach most recently wrote a review article that appeared in JAMDA (Journal of the American Medical Directors Association) that showed fear of falling is a significant problem in nursing homes.

“People in nursing homes tend to be frailer and have more health problems and physical limitations than older adults who are in the community,” Lach said.

“The fear of falling can stop some nursing home residents from doing anything, even participating in their own daily care. They become frozen in inactivity, which makes them depressed and bored. They get more out of shape, which creates more health problems that actually increase their risk of falling.”

Lach noted that the fear of falling is part of a cycle that can lead to a frailty and a downward spiral in health.

“As people do less, they become less able to engage in activities. They have difficulty moving around, and their gait and balance deteriorates. This puts them at an increased risk of falling, which unfortunately means the fear of falling actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.”

It’s important that nursing home staff members recognize that about half of residents have such a deep fear of falling that they limit their activities, and develop a way to assuage those fears. Exercise programs offered in a safe and supportive environment can be valuable in helping residents feel better – both physically and psychologically, Lach said.

Senior adults who aren’t in long term care facilities also may need to confront their fear of falling, she added. Tai Chi, walking, weight training and simple exercises to increase muscle strength – such as practicing sitting and standing to strengthen leg muscles or standing on one foot with a chair at arm’s reach – make a world of difference.

“Falls can cause problems,” Lach said, “but so can the fear of falling.”

Founded in 1928, Saint Louis University School of Nursing has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research and clinical expertise.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Saint Louis University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helen W. Lach, Jill L. Parsons. Impact of Fear of Falling in Long Term Care: An Integrative Review. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2013; 14 (8): 573 DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2013.02.019

Cite This Page:

Saint Louis University Medical Center. "Don’t let fear of falling freeze you in your tracks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920143322.htm>.
Saint Louis University Medical Center. (2013, September 20). Don’t let fear of falling freeze you in your tracks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920143322.htm
Saint Louis University Medical Center. "Don’t let fear of falling freeze you in your tracks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920143322.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins