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Importance of Falls Prevention in the Elderly

June 2, 2021

Falls are a major public health concern with around 30% of adults aged over 65 experiencing around one fall each year accounting for 40% of injury-related deaths in this age population. One of the most life-threatening injuries caused by falls are hip fractures due to postoperative complications or from effects of bedrest leading to death in around 25% of people. With this being said it is extremely important not only to prevent falls, but to know how to minimise the impact of falls. (“Info about falls | Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society”, 2021).

To identify your risk of falls you can take a short falls risk assessment here: https://studioxphys.com.au/exercise-physiology-quiz/

Preventing falls:

Some things that can be done immediately to decrease the risk of falls include:

  • Arrange your house so there are minimal tripping hazards around

  • Have your hearing and vision checked regularly

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink as this decreases balance and reaction time

  • Stand up slowly to avoid dizziness due to sudden changes in blood pressure

  • Wear non-slip socks and shoes

  • If you think your medication is causing you dizziness as a side effect, tell your doctor as there may be a better option for you.

  • Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last check-up, even if you weren’t hurt

  • Especially if you are at a very high risk of falls, it can be useful to obtain an emergency button on a necklace or bracelet that you can wear when you’re alone

An exercise program designed for your needs can significantly reduce your risk of falls. An accredited Exercise Physiologist can help with this.

(Liu-Ambrose et al., 2019).

Preventing falls through physical activity:

  • Stay physically active!

  • Increase balance and reaction time

  • Increase bone density to decrease the likeliness of fractures due to falls

  • Increase strength (this can help you to catch yourself or get up after a fall)

(Lee & Kim, 2016).

Getting up after a fall:

Especially if your risk of falls is quite high, it can be very beneficial to be prepared if the event does occur. 

Falling can be quite startling and upsetting, so if it does occur:

  •  Try to remain calm. Remain on the ground for a few moments to allow the shock to wear off so you can properly decide if you are hurt.

  • If no help is available, carefully roll over to your side.

  • Slowly get onto your hands and knees and crawl to a stable chair.

  • Hold the seat of the chair and slide one foot forward so it’s flat on the ground and try to bring your body to turn around and sit on the chair.

  • If you are hurt or can’t get up on your own, call 000.

(“Prevent Falls and Fractures”, 2021).

The idea of falling can be a scary one, however, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself or a loved one! For help getting started, speak to one of our lovely staff members at StudioXphys.

References:
Info about falls | Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society. Anzfallsprevention.org. (2021). Retrieved 22 April 2021, from https://www.anzfallsprevention.org/info/.
Liu-Ambrose, T., Davis, J., Best, J., Dian, L., Madden, K., & Cook, W. et al. (2019). Effect of a Home-Based Exercise Program on Subsequent Falls Among Community-Dwelling High-Risk Older Adults After a Fall. JAMA, 321(21), 2092. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.5795 
Lee, S., & Kim, H. (2016). Exercise Interventions for Preventing Falls Among Older People in Care Facilities: A Meta-Analysis. Worldviews On Evidence-Based Nursing, 14(1), 74-80. https://doi.org/10.1111/wvn.12193 
Prevent Falls and Fractures. National Institute on Aging. (2021). Retrieved 22 April 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures.

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