Circulatory Disease Increases Fall Risk for Seniors

It’s probably no surprise to you that a single fall could drastically change your life. In fact, it’s a leading cause of injury and hospitalization in seniors. But what may come as a surprise to you are some of the factors that cause falls. In some instances, the issue may be changes in shifting weight from one foot to another, or problems with balance. One out of every three seniors reports having problems with balance, according to the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging. Reducing the risk factors associated with falls is key in maintaining your overall health and well-being.

Circulatory Disease Increases Fall Risk

Many of the issues associated with balance problems are caused by circulatory disease. For many of us, our circulatory systems become less effective as we age. It is harder for our hearts to pump blood to our extremities, and our veins soften, which also reduces blood flow. According to the Mayo Clinic, a wide range of circulation problems can lead to issues with balance. These include drops in blood volume, abnormal heart rhythms, inadequate blood flow thanks to blocked arteries, and drops in blood pressure. When circulation is decreased to your limbs, the pressure sensors that are built into your feet don’t work as well as they should. This makes it harder to remain steady on your feet and shift your weight as necessary. At the same time, many of these issues can also make you feel faint, which can also jeopardize balance.

Preventing and Combating Circulatory Disease

The best way to avoid this risk is to prevent the disease in the first place. This can be done by eating a well-balanced, healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Ask your doctor for a meal plan based on your specific needs, and slowly add more activity to your schedule. Go for a walk each morning, or attend water aerobics classes with a friend. Look into local gyms or senior centers. They may offer special programs for active older adults. If you don’t know of any in your area, your doctor should be able to recommend an exercise program that will help to improve your muscle strength, cardiovascular health, balance, and flexibility while minimizing your risk of injury. 

If you have been diagnosed with blood pressure issues, peripheral artery disease, or heart issues, you may already be dealing with balance and ambulatory issues because of a circulatory disease. Luckily, some of these effects can be alleviated by treating the underlying cause. If you haven’t already, talk with your doctor about diet modifications and an exercise plan in addition to your medications. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend a prescribed outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program. These are usually used in recovery from heart attacks, heart surgery, and arterial stent procedures.

Circulatory disease can upset your sense of balance as well as make it more difficult to remain ambulatory. This means that these issues exponentially increase your risk of falls. By preventing these diseases, you may be able to remain independent longer. If you’re already struggling with them, your doctor can help by offering you a plan to combat the damage caused by poor circulation. 

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