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Why You Should Care About Falls Prevention

Unless you’ve had a fall before, you may have never even thought about what it’s like to fall. If you are physically well and feeling strong on your feet, you may even scoff at the idea that you could have a fall. However, it’s important that we talk openly about falls, not just to help those who are at a high risk of falling, but also so that we can understand what the risk factors for falls are, and that many of these factors are easily preventable. 

 

If you or someone close to you have had a fall, you may know just how devastating the consequences of a fall can be. We know that falls represent a major cause of injury for those over 65. We also know that often the injuries sustained in a fall can be significant and have long-lasting effects.

 

Many of the contributing factors that increase falls risk are a natural part of getting older. Some of these include:

 

Physical Health and Fitness

 

Strength, balance and overall physical fitness are an obvious major influence on falls risk. The great thing about this is that these risk factors are simple to modify – most people vastly over-estimate the impact that ageing has on their physical fitness! While it is true that strength decreases somewhat with age, much of this is related to non-use – staying active is the most important thing you can do to maintain your strength and fitness. To use a term you may be more familiar with - “Use it or lose it!” The good news is that it’s never too later to improve your strength, balance and fitness, no matter your age or starting level. Later in this article we talk about some simple ways you can see dramatic improvements to your physical fitness.

 

Medication

 

Individual medications may have an impact on falls risk by affecting alertness, mental state or physical function. In addition, interaction between multiple medications can have a compounding effect, making the risk of falls even greater.

 

Lack of Confidence

 

Surprisingly, it’s not just those who take part in “risky activities” who fall. There is evidence that a fear of falling can lead to behaviour that may increase the risk of falls as well. For example, if you have had a fall in the past, you may find yourself being less active, leading to a decrease in strength and balance and ultimately a higher risk of falling.

 

Vision

 

Vision is a particularly important in preventing falls, as impaired vision can be an obvious reason for trips, slips and bumps that lead to a fall. This is particularly true in low light conditions, for example, getting up to go to the toilet at night. Although some causes of vision loss are irreversible, it’s critical to maximise your vision to limit the impact this has on falls risk.

 

Home Environment

 

If your home is cluttered, has uneven floors, multiple surfaces, or stairs without rails or anti-slip surfaces, these could all be increasing your risk of a fall inside and around the house. Making sure that obstacles are minimised, and safety measures are in place is one of the easiest ways to limit the risk of ever having a fall.

 

Continence Issues

 

While this may seem unrelated to falls, continence issues can play a big role in causing falls. Rushing to the toilet is a reason often cited for falling, particularly when this happens at night while light is poor, and people are naturally disoriented. More severe continence issues can also make moving around awkward.

 

If you have one or more of the following, you may already be at high risk of falls, so speak to one of our Home Care Experts or your health professional to find out how you can reduce your risk.

  • Recent Falls
  • Multiple Medications
  • Mental Health or Cognition Concerns
  • Impaired Mobility
  • Impaired Vision
  • Continence Issues
  • Medical Conditions (such as vertigo or low blood pressure)
  • Generally Feeling Unwell
  • Inactive or Lacking in Strength and Fitness

 

 

So what can we do to prevent falls?

 

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to prevent or manage these factors, or that falls are inevitable. In fact, there are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent falls in the long term, and manage your risk of falls if you are in the high risk category or have had falls in the past.

 

 

Guided Exercise, Reablement and Rehabilitation

 

The benefits of exercise are too many to list! Research has shown that people who exercise not only have a lower risk of falling, but sleep better, have improved mood, and are more able to participate in the activities they enjoy!

 

Exercise, Reablement and Rehabilitation can help to restore strength, improve balance and endurance, manage fatigue, improve confidence and improve your overall wellbeing.

 

If you don’t already exercise regularly, you don’t feel confident and safe doing exercise, or you’re not sure where to start, here are a couple of important things to note:

 

  • It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do – any movement counts! Whether it’s simple stretching exercises in a chair, going for a walk, tai chi or dancing, simply staying active will always go some way to improving your strength and fitness.
  • There are people who can help you get started safely – Aunty Grace has expert health professionals like Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists who can support you to do exercise targeted at improving your strength, balance, function, and reducing your falls risk.

 

For more information about Guided Exercise, Reablement and Rehabilitation services, see our other article on Reablement and Rehabilitation 

 

 

Medication Review

 

If you have had a fall or are concerned about falls, and you are taking multiple medications, you should consider having your medication reviewed. You can visit your GP or prescribing specialist to discuss this, or ask one of our Registered Nurses to take a look at your medication schedule.

 

 

Vision Services

 

Vision services can include reviewing your glasses prescription or vision and eye checks by a trained health professional. If your vision has been maximised, you can also look at strategies to improve your vision inside the home, include improved lighting and high contrast or textured surfaces to aid navigation.

 

 

Decluttering

 

Furniture and other objects inside your home can create significant slip, trump and bump hazards, leading to falls. If your home can be difficult to move around in, particularly if you have other risk factors for falls, speak to one of our Home Care Experts or Concierges who can talk to you about de-cluttering services.

 

 

Occupational Therapy

 

Occupational Therapists are experts in reviewing your home environment and identifying risk factors. An Occupational Therapist can suggest useful modifications and equipment that can help you to move around more easily and safely, reducing your falls risk and giving you confidence in tour own home. 

 

 

What if I’ve already had a fall?

 

If you’ve already had a fall in the past, not to worry – it’s never too late to take measures to reduce your risk of falls in future. Aunty Grace has a range of health professionals who can help to target falls prevention activities for anyone, from people with a very low falls risk, to people with very high risk and a history of falls.

 

If you want to know more about falls prevention, or simply want help maximising your strength, balance and fitness so that you can live life to the fullest, speak to one of our Home Care Experts today.

Not sure where to start? Need Assistance? Get in touch with us now.

Not sure where to start?

Need Assistance?

Get in touch with us now.

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