Am I at risk of a fall?
The risk of falls increases as we get older and so fall prevention should be a consideration in the later stages of life. Where most falls do not commonly lead to serious harm and injury, others may lead to hospital admission. A third of adults over the age of 80 years will have a fall at least once a year. As well as physical injuries, falls can reduce individual confidence and independence. With this in mind, it is important to keep active and regularly exercise but it is also vital to know what increases your risk of falls and how to prevent them.
With age we naturally lose muscle strength and balance leading to an increased likelihood of a fall. This is combination with any vision loss and effects of other long term health conditions such as heart disease, low blood pressure and dementia all contribute to your falls risk.
It is important to know that for people with certain medical conditions falls do become more problematic. For example, individuals with osteoporosis are at greater risk of serious fractures following a fall. Osteoporosis can develop in both men and women but is more common in older women due to hormonal changes of the menopause. It is a health condition that weakens the strength of bones, making them fragile and more likely to fracture.
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of falls and ensure that fall prevention guidelines and procedures are adopted in the future. Firstly, it is important to consider your home environment and identify what makes you at even more risk.
Below is a list of common factors that make the possibility of a fall greater:
- Wet floors such as the bathroom
- Poorly lit areas and dim lighting
- Rugs and carpets if not properly secured
- Reaching to into cupboards and shelves
- Rushing to go to the toilet at night
- Home DIY and repair work such falling from a ladder
Top tips to Fall proof your home!
- Make sure your home is well lit
- Avoid having trailing cables to lamps etc.
- Make sure rugs have nonslip underlay
- Replace worn rugs. Clear away clutter
- Do not store items on the stairs
- Clear up spillages straight away
- Use a nonslip mat in the bathroom
- Consider grab rails.
How to reduce your risk
We can’t stop the aging process we can make small changes to our lifestyles that prevent the risk of falling.
If you are at risk of a fall, or have had a fall in the past, you may need a physiotherapy assessment.
During a physiotherapy assessment, the physiotherapist will be able to identify early difficulties with movement, strength, and balance. This therefore enables them to identify those individuals at risk of a fall.
A physiotherapist will then be able to devise an appropriate exercise intervention to help improve strength and balance and therefore overall risk of falling. Exercises can be functional, so they are more applicable to everyday activities. Exercise programmes are also designed so they are personalised and suitable for a person’s fitness and ability levels and more importantly, so it is enjoyable to complete.
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