By: Dr. Beth Templin
Most older adults I talk with about falling are more concerned with getting up from the floor than about the actual fall. To me, that seems a little backward. Shouldn't they be more worried about the fall itself? About possibly injuring themselves?
As I started asking more questions about this thought process, I heard so many stories about people who have fallen and had no major injuries but were unable to get up from the floor by themselves.
Stories have ranged from laying on the ground for 20 minutes to several hours waiting for someone to help them up. People are embarrassed that they have fallen and are mortified they are unable to get themselves up from the floor.
An example of this involved a woman who fell during the night after going to the bathroom. She ended up sleeping on the floor the entire night because she didn't want to wake up her husband. She didn't want to bother him with helping her to get up, even though he was in the same room.
I've also heard stories where people intentionally get on the ground to play with grandchildren only to realize they have lost their confidence with being on the ground. Or they get down to perform chores like scrubbing the floors and realize they can't get back up.
Not being able to get up from the floor in a timely manner can actually lead to many negative consequences. When you're stuck on the floor too long, you are at risk for developing pressure ulcers, especially if you have a hard time repositioning yourself.
The longer you're unable to get up from the floor, the more likely you are to experience rhabdomyolysis, a process in which the muscles begin to break down. This puts additional stress on your kidneys and could result in kidney damage.
Another major complication of being on the floor for an extended time is risk for dehydration. Dehydration impacts your body's ability to work properly and places you at risk for developing heart issues, confusion and shock.
Hypothermia can also occur if you are laying stranded on a cold floor for long periods of time. Not only does this lead to further complications, it makes your recovery harder.
There are several reasons why people have trouble getting up and down from the floor. Usually, it's stiffness in the hips and knees. Other times it's weakness in the arms and legs, all of which are more common as you age.
The good news is all of these problems can be overcome with the right kinds of exercise. At HouseFit, we help people improve these issues every day.
Being able to get up and down from the floor is an important skill to have throughout life, but especially as you age. I know many older adults who want to be able to get up and down from the floor to play with grandchildren and pets or to be able to garden and clean out the bottom of the cabinets. They want to be able to keep living in their own homes as long as possible. Fortunately, it's never too late to start.
❤ Dr. Beth
Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ maximize their independence and fitness, so they can continue to enjoy a full and active life.