Does the fear of falling restrict your daily activities?
When the fear of falling fills your mind with negative thoughts and prevents you from participating fully take action to renew your confidence and strength.
The fear of falling is a common and prevalent concern for many older adults whether they have experienced a previous fall or not. Factors such as stamina, mobility, chronic illness, balance and strength can affect how a person thinks and feels about their ability to be active. When the fear of falling causes a person to restrict their daily activities and unplug from things they enjoy, it is important to recognize and evaluate the situation to regain the confidence to be as mobile as possible.
Recognize your fears and concerns about falling
First be honest with yourself and identify your thoughts, concerns, and fears about falling. Try to name the feelings you experience. Do you often worry about falling? Are you overly concerned if you fall, someone else will have to take care of you? Has a previous fall shattered your confidence? Have you bought into the belief that falling is inevitable? Are you thinking self-defeating thoughts or feeling hopeless believing you can do nothing about the situation? Do you feel you have lost the power to control your life? Are you concerned that you just have to accept this is how you feel? Are you afraid to tell anyone about your fear of falling?
Recognize the effects these fears and beliefs have on you
After you have identified your specific fears and concerns pause and recognize how these fears may be affecting you. Are you experiencing stress or anxiety, if so how often? Are you experiencing negative thought patterns because of your fear of falling? Are you making different decisions and changing your routine? Have you stopped getting out of your home and declined to attend activities you enjoy? Do your fears interfere with doing daily basic activities around your home? Do you feel you should just do less so you do not fall? Are you sitting down often and noticing changes in your strength or feeling fatigued? Are you cautious about sharing your fears with family, friends and your health care provider as they might not understand and believe they will not be able to help?
Challenge your negative thoughts and replace with positive thoughts
After you pinpoint your specific thoughts and emotions and discern how these potentially negative thought patterns have crept into your life, pause and look at the situation differently. You need to face the truth that being sedentary is not the answer – it only leads to continued loss of balance, strength and flexibility and increases the potential for falling. You have the ability within yourself to make positive changes. Fears, especially non-rational fears, need not rob you of a full life. Our minds are powerful and reframing our thoughts can significantly improve our beliefs and self-confidence. Turn your negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Stop buying into negative self-defeating thoughts, which are harmful. Positive constructive ideas can transform you. Look for simple solutions so you can re-engage in activities you enjoy. Do not hesitate to ask for accommodations to make getting out of the house a comfortable and safe experience. Advocate for assistance and enjoy the things you love to do.
Enroll in a community program to find support and tools to overcome the fear of falling
Be proactive and locate evidence-based fall prevention programs in your community to assist you in learning strategies to maintain a sense of control in your life and the ability to fully participate. Fall prevention programming builds confidence and strength and staying active encourages independence and fun. You can incorporate tips for fall prevention to make your home a safe as possible. Contact your local Michigan State University Extension office for information on A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi for Arthritis and Walk with Ease programs.