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 in activities, you can 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.
If the fear of falling is causing you to restrict your daily activities and avoid doing the things that you enjoy, it is important to recognize and evaluate the situation to regain the confidence needed 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 are experiencing. Do you often worry about falling? Are you concerned that if you fall, someone else will have to take care of you? Has a previous fall affected your confidence? Have you bought into the belief that falling is inevitable?
Understand 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, and 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 that you enjoy?
Challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts
After you have pinpointed your negative thoughts and emotions, take some time to look at the situation differently. First and foremost, it is important to understand that being sedentary is not the answer; it only leads to continued loss of balance, strength and flexibility and increases the potential for falling. Explore ways to make positive changes so that you can re-engage in the activities that you enjoy. This may be a good time to share your concerns with your healthcare provider and advocate for extra assistance from family and/or friends so that getting out of the house is a comfortable and safe experience.
Enroll in a community program to find support and tools to overcome the fear of falling
Be proactive and find evidence-based falls prevention programs that can empower you to fully participate in activities you enjoy. The National Council on Aging is a great online resource that provides information about Falls Prevention for Older Adults, along with a map of partners and programs available in your community that can help assist you in learning strategies to maintain a sense of control and work toward fully participating those things in life that bring you happiness. Contact your local Michigan State University Extension office for information about falls prevention programs such as A Matter of Balance and Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention.