The seriousness of people having falls at home and in the community is underrated by many. Most think ‘it wont happen to me’, but the reality is 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will fall every year!
As we age, there are changes to the balance systems of the body, our muscle mass reduces, and other health conditions may start to affect our ability to stay upright! Falls put us at risk of serious fracture, head injury, other muscular injury and fear of movement – this means you will move less and your risk of subsequent falls further increases.
There are some really important and easy things that can be done to help you stay confident and on your feet. These include;
- Regular Exercise – this should include strengthening, balance, stretching and cardiovascular exercises
- Reviewing medications – did you know taking 5 or more medications can increase your risk of falls? Having your medications reviewed regularly by your GP or Pharmacist can be helpful to determine if your medications may be affecting your balance.
- Check your eyesight – regular checks can help to ensure your glasses are appropriate and help to see where you are going.
- Good diet and water intake – ensure you have enough water to prevent dehydraton, and regular nutritious meals to give your body the energy it needs to function. Skipping meals and dehydration can lead to dizziness and feeling unwell.
- Check your home – are there hazards you could trip over, such as the garden hose, or edge of a mat? Can you change or remove these items to reduce the chances of you tripping over them? Would equipment be helpful to you, such a a chair to sit on when showering? Occupational Therapists can be very useful health professionals to assist in working out how you home could be changed to make things safer!
- Lighting – when you get up in the night, do you have adequate light or do you fumble in the dark? Having a clear and obvious pathway at night is vital in falls prevention!
Physiotherapists can help assess patients who have had falls, are fearful of falling, or just want to prevent falls into the future. They can assess which muscles might need extra strengthening, check the sensation of the legs and balance systems, assist in pain management and prescribe exercises to keep you strong and mobile. They can also provide education and strategies on falls prevention at home and in the community, and prescribe walking aids to help you walk safely.
Stay on Your Feet WA have lots of great information available, and can be found at the www.stayonyourfeet.com.au.
In Mandurah, there are many great community groups that offer different types of exercise, and there is certainly something to cater all!
Mandurah Seniors and Community Centre offer Tai Chi, Prime Movers, Yoga for Seniors, HeartFit classes, Strong on Your Feet classes, line dancing, Beat the Feet, table tennis and more.
City of Mandurah various programs at their centres, including HeartFit, walking groups, Living Longer Living Stronger, Tai Chi, Yoga and Aqua exercise classes.
Take control, get moving and have fun doing it, and remember…FALLS PREVENTION IS A BIG DEAL!