A large part of my practice includes treating older adults. I do live in Florida after all! I can understand why everyone wants to come and retire here: beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and lots to do no matter what your age!
And whether I’m treating an older patient for diabetic foot or a foot or ankle fracture related to osteoporosis, a common concern among them is falling, or really better said, not falling. Children of the elderly are also greatly concerned about how to prevent falls, as often they have their aged parent or parents living with them.
Changes During the Aging Process
Falling among elderly is an all too common occurrence that leads to serious, if not life threatening consequences. Many people accept falling as the normal part of the aging process, but that simply doesn’t have to be the case.
Yes, things do change as we age. Our vision dims, muscle mass decreases, bones become more porous and brittle, and our overall physical activity level slows down. Geez…I’m trying not to get depressed as I write this. All of these changes can lead to a greater risk of falling.
There also may be subtle changes in our brain health as well. We may not remember things as well or respond as quickly to questions. Another change that can occur is a decline in proprioception.
Proprioception is the brain’s ability to detect where the body is in space. It’s your brain’s way of keeping track of the body and where it is in relation to the environment. For example, you don’t normally have to consciously think about walking and where to place your feet…you just walk! The brain normally does this for you! But for some people as they age, their brain may have greater difficulty sensing where their feet are in relation to the ground, or what angle the ankle approaches the ground, and this causes them to have a more uncertain gait and can significantly increase the risk of falling.
I have used a technique that helps boost the brain’s ability to detect specifically where the feet are in relation to the environment. This technique increases contact on the skin of the foot and lower leg by using a molded thin brace that fits in the shoe. This increases the brain’s ability to sense where the foot is in space. If the brain is better able to detect where the foot is in it’s environment due to the increased stimulus, the brain can better control an elderly patients gait pattern, thereby decreasing falls.
If you are a caregiver of the elderly and are concerned with their safety and stability or are looking for a podiatrist in the Bradenton-Sarasota area,please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in his Bradenton Podiatry office or Sarasota Podiatry office.