As we age, our risk of falling increases and the associated consequences become more serious. It can be a little scary to read about, but the trick is to prevent falls, and if you have fallen, work to prevent another.
While there are no specific Australian statistics, we know that falls can lead to hospitalisation and early admission to aged care facilities. A Swedish study found that people who had fallen had a reduced quality of life and life satisfaction compared to people who hadn’t fallen1. This could be due to injuries like fractures: 1-5% of falls result in fracture2, most commonly in the wrist and hip. It may also be due to an increased fear of falling which limits mobility and independence.
Prevention is all about changing as many of the risk factors as possible and the evidence shows that it works2. The list of risk factors for falling is extensive and varied so here are some of the most common that we can change3:
- Fear of falling
- Poor balance
- Reduced leg strength
- Decline in basic daily activity
- Cluttered environment & trip hazards
- Dim lighting
- Visual difficulties
- Altered blood pressure and dizziness
Preventing falls takes a team effort from Podiatrists, Optometrists, GPs and others. Your GP is important for managing medications, other medical issues and organising things like aged care assessments. As Physios we are part of this team and can provide assistance in the following ways:
- A home assessment where we can give you tips on how to remove trip hazards, improve lighting or where rails might help.
- Assessment and management of any musculoskeletal aches and pains you might have.
- Balance and strength classes here at the clinic and/or safe and effective home exercise programs to help increase your strength and balance. This has been shown to reduce falls and fall-related hospitalisations4.
- Fitting you with walking sticks or frames if you come to need them.
- We can also help you increase your confidence again after a fall with safe, progressive balance challenges in the right environment.
As always we are happy to answer any questions you may have.