Everyone needs stability. Unfortunately, for many of us old enough to be on AARP’s radar, physical instability while standing and walking is more of a problem than it used to be. In Palm Desert, where a third of the population is older than 64 and nearly two-thirds is older than 45, unexpected falls are a chief concern.
Although instability isn’t inevitable among older populations, there are multiple reasons why fall risk increases for many of us. As we get older, we tend to lose muscle strength and flexibility in our lower legs. As a result, there’s often a corresponding shift in walking gait to compensate, with a wider stance and shorter, slower strides.
Several common complications of aging affect either how we walk or move, or our perception of environmental risks and hazards. Arthritis, neuropathy and lack of sensation, lack of exercise, dizziness, certain medications, and many other factors could be at play in increasing instability, while declining vision, hearing, sensation, and reflexes can cause you to miss or not react in time to obstacles.
Feet that don’t work as well as they used to can be a big factor, too. Due to the years of accumulated wear and tear, the incidence of foot, ankle, and leg problems (bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, neuropathy, etc.) increases steadily with age. Painful feet affect the way you walk and move, which can decrease physical stability.
Despite these potential pitfalls, the truth is that people of every age can take steps to reduce their fall risk. Regular exercise and stretching can maintain stabilizing and supporting muscles that are stronger and more limber. Taking good care of your general physical health—eating right, managing conditions like diabetes, etc.—can help you keep body and mind sharp.
When foot issues crop up, stop in and see Harvey R. Danciger, DPM. Whether you need senior or diabetic foot checkups, treatment for a neurological condition, physical therapy, laser therapy for foot pain, custom orthotics, surgery, or something else, Dr. Danciger is your one-stop destination for full service foot care in the Coachella Valley. To set up an appointment at our Palm Desert office, contact us through this website or dial 760-568-0108.
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