Approximately 1 in 3 adults over 65 experience at least one fall each year, with 30% of all people who fall requiring medical attention. The most common injuries are to the head or hip/thigh and can range from a laceration to a fractured hip that can require months of rehab.
So the question is.. are you at risk of a fall? And if so, is there anything you can do about it?
Those most at risk of a fall include people who have previously fallen, are frail, have other health conditions or cognitive impairments. The environment in which you live also contributes to your possible risk of falling. The most important thing to do if you are at risk of falling is to put in place falls prevention methods. These are designed to increase independence while reducing the risk of falling.
Falls prevention methods include:
- Strength and balance exercises: exercises will depend on you pre-existing level of strength and balance capacity. A home exercise program or a group program can be helpful. Recent evidence shows that weighted strength training significantly reduces an individuals risk of falling.
- Managing pain: if pain is limiting an individuals ability to walk, exercise and participate in activities, treatment for the presenting condition should be part of the management plan for preventing falls.
- Modifying your home environment: anything that could cause a trip should be considered (e.g. removing mats, decluttering, adding ramps)
- Implementing walking aids where required: this can improve confidence and allow for increased independence (e.g. a walking stick or frame when on uneven surfaces)
- Ease of access and appropriate seating out and about: choosing shops that are less crowded and have alternate options for access. Going to parks with seating and smooth walking tracks.
- Appropriate footwear: loose fitting shoes, while comfortable, increase the risk of falls as they can be a tripping hazard.
So if you are someone who has had a fall, identify as at risk of a fall or even know a family member or friend who might be. The most important thing you can do is talk about it and seek help to identify what falls prevention methods will help you.