Did you know that 30% of people over 65 fall at least once a year? Once you have had a fall you are twice as likely to fall again within 12 months. Fall injuries can have a serious impact on your quality of life and independence. Falls often cause life changing injuries to weakened bones and muscles. Some of the more severe but common injuries are lacerations, hip and head injuries.
So how do you know if you are a potential falls risk, and what can you do to prevent falling?
The number 1 contributor to falls risk is age. There are other factors that are just as influential and vary from individual to individual.
This may seem obvious, but it is worth noting that people with cataracts are at a higher risk than normal to have a fall. Changing your glasses prescription also increases risk of falling.
Medications often make us feel tired, drowsy or just plain disorientated. Medications to treat central nervous system complaints such as anxiety and insomnia can affect your mobility and balance.
Eating healthy nutritious food promotes muscle health and keeps our body working better for longer. There is a strong evidence that shows that those who eat healthy are fitter, stronger and less likely to fall.
Sore, tired or aching feet make it difficult to move or exercise. Foot problems can also be a symptom of other more serious problems and should always be assessed by a professional. Wearing loose shoes or wearing socks without shoes can increase you risk of falling or tripping.
Muscle weakness effects posture and negates our sense of balance and affects coordination.
Stroke victims, sufferers of Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and any of the many neurological conditions are at a higher risk of falling. These conditions affect balance, control and movement which all impact your mobility.
Previous injuries, impaired walking pattern, balance problems all add to reduce mobility. Being aware of your mobility limitations can help lower your falls risk.
Fear of Falling
Fear of falling can inhibit an individual’s confidence in performing daily tasks. Fear also prevents people from exercising which could improve mobility, balance and confidence.
Muscle strengthening and exercise will improve your strength and mobility lowering your falls risk. Talk to a health professional who can devise a specific exercise routine for you. Tai Chi is a gentle exercise which strengthens muscles, improves balance and has been proven to reduce falls risk. Eating healthy and living an active life will improve your quality of life and decrease your risk of falling.
If you think you are a potential falls risk you can ask for a falls risk assessment from a health professional such as an Occupational Therapist. After assessment they can advise on suitable modifications such as grab rails, non-slip floor coverings and mobility aids. Modifications and mobility aids will improve your lifestyle and give you confidence around your home.