Falls in the Elderly: How to Prevent
Posted on 15th February 2022 at 12:55
Over the last two years of reduced socialising and activity due to the pandemic, it has been hard to maintain our normal levels of muscle strength. Muscle conditioning as we get older is particularly important to maintain as it provides support to our joints and protects our bones from being damaged when we fall.
In the colder months it is very easy to stay at home and remain inactive. Muscle loss can occur up to three times faster from inactivity than it can be gained from staying active, so it is important that we try to remain active as much as possible.
Falls in the elderly are much more frequent than in the younger population and this is often related to muscle deconditioning and reduced balance reactions. Add icy conditions to the equation and the winter months provide a particular challenge to the elderly population’s ability to remain active and fit enough to prevent bony injuries when falls in the elderly occur.
Improving muscle strength also helps to support joints which may show signs of osteoarthritis and reduce associated joint pain preventing the need for joint replacement surgery. Mental health also benefits when we do exercise.
Falls Prevention in the Elderly
The Otago Strength and Balance Programme is an exercise programme which is aimed at those of us over the age of 65 who have experienced falls or due to circumstances, have become more sedentary. With a combination of strength and balance exercises as well as a graded walking programme, the programme has been shown to help with falls prevention in the elderly and sedentary and decrease fall frequency by 35% within six to 12 months.
As well as conditioning the body to prevent falls there are other pre-cursers to falls which merit consideration. Reduced eyesight is a major contributor to falls so if you are noticing changes in your vision, make sure to see an optician and ensure that you have sufficient lighting inside and outside your home. Remove all stray cables, loose rugs, and any other obvious trip hazards.
If you are not feeling yourself for any reason, it is important to see your GP to check if you need a review of medication or if there are any other new issues which need a medical opinion. Infections or disorders of your inner ear are commonly associated with disturbance of balance and can cause vertigo.
If you would like further information about falls in the elderly and how to prevent them, please get in touch with Colchester Physiotherapy and Sports Injury clinic today! Our friendly team will be more than happy to offer trustworthy advice on which of our programmes is most suitable for your specific needs. Please contact us now to start your journey on our falls prevention in the elderly programmes today!
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