Falls prevention in the elderly is very important. The risk of having a fall and causing injury greatly increases after the age of 60.
The incidence of having a fall also increases when the elderly live in a nursing home or are in hospital.
A fall results in reduced function and mobility and therefore lack of independence.This can have a huge effect on your lifestyle and can result in leaving your own home and having to live in a nursing home or aged care facility.
Most elderly people are fiercely independent and love to be surrounded by their loved ones and fond memories in their own home.
Therefore elderly falls prevention should be of high priority.
Why the risk of a fall increases in seniors
As we age we lose strength, flexibility and function. Factors increasing the risk of a fall include :
- weakness in our legs
- poor grip strength
- poor balance
- visual problems
- hazards in and outside of the home
Our reflexes aren’t as quick as when we were younger and we are more likely to have osteoporosis increasing the risk of bone fractures.
Other causes of falls in the home are poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of aids in the bathroom.
Another risk factor is not being able to lift the foot up sufficiently high during walking. This can be caused by tight muscles which contribute to back pain and arthritic knee pain.
Unsuitable/worn out shoes can contribute to a fall, so a sensible choice of footwear is important. A podiatrist can give you advice on the correct type of footwear.
Eye sight declines with age so having your eyes tested every year can pick up any changes quickly. Having the correct prescription eyeglasses can help prevent a fall.
How to determine your risk of having a fall :
- Have you had a recent fall or more than one within the last year?
- Are you unsteady on your feet ?
- Do you have trouble walking, sometimes tripping when walking ?
- Do you have reduced sensation in one or both legs?
- Do you have blurred or double vision? Has your doctor checked your vision /glasses in the last year?
- Do you have diabetes, Parkinson´s Disease or arthritis in your knees?
- Have you had a stroke?
- Are your shoes wearing out?
Perhaps you :
- find it difficult seeing steps or obstacles around your home
- find it difficult to think clearly
- have difficulty walking in dim light
- have an urgency to go to the toilet at night
- sometimes feel dizzy, light headed or drowsy
- are taking more than three medications, particularly sleeping tablets, tranquillisers or anti-depressants
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions you are at risk of having a fall. You need to speak to your doctor or physiotherapist about elderly falls prevention.
It’s never too late to start an exercise program for elderly falls prevention
Positive studies have been carried out on seniors 60 plus and even on a group of women 80 years of age and more. They showed that doing a tailored balance and exercise program at home greatly reduces your risk of a fall and injury.
One study also showed that alongside the exercise program, management of hazards and reduced vision was also effective.
A mobile physiotherapist can assist with falls prevention aged care. They will visit you in your own environment to assess your risk of a fall.
After an assessment of your function and mobility, they will write a tailored exercise program for you to follow. You will be closely monitored to prevent injury and to ensure results.
Additionally, the physiotherapist will check out your home environment regarding safety hazards. They might get an Occupational Therapist on board if further home adjustments are needed.
We want to prevent you from having a fall in the first place.
A serious implication of having a fall is a hip fracture. This can result in ongoing pain and lack of function. Also, long hospital stays. It can even reduce your life expectancy.
Your confidence can be greatly affected and can result in loss of independence. This can lead to lack of exercise and socialising, decreasing your quality of life.
Elderly falls prevention is the key. Don’t put off a balance and exercise program until after a fall.
Do something about it now by staying active and getting the advice of a physiotherapist who can assess you in your own home.