By Craig Zettergren
For two years, Bonnie Marsh was a homebody.
The 82 year old battled brain cancer, which left her feeling dizzy, unsteady on her feet and nauseous at times. She only ventured outside for doctor’s appointments.
On more than one occasion, Marsh admits she had negative thoughts.
“Sometimes you just say to yourself, ‘Why did I bother getting up today? This is rotten,’” Marsh said. “You’re just sitting there, the room is spinning, you can’t move without your cane. ‘Why are you fighting this? You’re in your 80s. Give up.’”
But Marsh refuses to give up. She now has a full-time caregiver in her granddaughter, Katelyn Marsh, and a team of physical therapists that are treating her condition holistically. During each visit to FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, Bonnie Marsh undergoes a series of exercises, stretches and activities focused on neurological rehabilitation and balance therapy. Dizziness, headaches and nausea are common conditions that can lead to falls, as well as reduced flexibility, strength and endurance. Additional factors include chronic conditions like arthritis, poor vision and hearing, orthopedic conditions and neurological disorders, as well as certain prescription medications that have potential side effects like dizziness, headaches and sleepiness.
The National Council on Aging estimates that more than one in four seniors will fall each year, with many incidents leading to hospitalization. Marsh doesn’t want to be part of that statistic.
“When you get my age, I’m just afraid that if I do fall and break a hip, what are your chances of healing and overcoming it?” she said. “It’s a fear you have all the time when you get up. You hope you’re going to be able to stay on your feet.”
Although physical therapy sessions can be grueling, Marsh credits FYZICAL with restoring her confidence and physical strength, which allows her to maintain a meaningful daily routine.
At 81, Robert Newman works full-time in construction. He installs flooring and builds staircases in high-end homes, so he’s constantly going up and down ladders and stairs.
Newman recalls a few serious falls. After one fall while putting up Christmas lights, he was “sore and embarrassed.” After another fall from missing a step on a ladder, Newman admitted he was lucky to not end up in the hospital. These mishaps helped Newman recognize the potential for serious injury.
Newman, too, sought help through FYZICAL’s balance therapy program. Patients undergo balance retraining and learn to spot potential slip, trip and fall hazards they may encounter during a typical day. For instance, Newman can now recognize potential hazards he’ll face while walking the dog, such as avoiding an approaching dog that might be aggressive, paying attention to curbs while stepping into the street and noticing cracks or tree roots in sidewalks.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults, according to the National Council on Aging.
To help seniors understand their risks of falling while learning strategies to prevent future falls, FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers offers complimentary fall-risk screenings during September through its “Fight the Fall” initiative. To schedule a fall-risk screening at a clinic, please visit fyzical.com.
About the author: Craig Zettergren is a physical therapist and Michigan regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has more than 430 locations in 45 states. For more information, visit fyzical.com.