The Importance of Fall Prevention as we Age
Embracing Active Ageing through Fall Prevention
As we age, we naturally face new challenges, but with the right mindset and approach, these challenges can be overcome. One such challenge is the risk of falls, which can be concerning, but with a few simple steps, we can maintain our independence, live a full, active life, and minimise falls.
In fact, fall prevention can be a positive and empowering experience, allowing us all to take control of our health and wellbeing. In this article, we will explore the common causes of falls, risk factors, and practical steps that we can all take, now, no matter how old you are! By following these guidelines, you can enjoy peace of mind and the freedom to live your life to the fullest.
Overview of common causes of falls in older adults
Falls as we age can be caused by a variety of factors, including
Physical factors, such as weakness and imbalance, poor vision, inner ear complications and foot problems, can make it more difficult to maintain stability and balance.
Biological Risk factors such as age, gender, and illness.
Environmental factors, such as poor lighting, cluttered spaces, loose rugs and mats, can create tripping hazards that increase the risk of falls.
Certain medications can also affect our balance.
Despite these challenges, let’s take steps to reduce the risk of falls and maintain our independence, for longer.
Let’s examine the risk factors for falls in more detail and some practical tips for reducing the risk of falls and improving your Safety.
Risk Factors of Falls
Weakness and Imbalance
As we age, our muscles naturally become weaker, and our balance may not be as stable as it once was. This can increase the risk of falls, especially for those that are physically inactive. Regular exercise, such as resistance training, cardio, playing sport and balance exercises, can improve muscle strength, agility, and stability, lowering the risk of falls.
Poor vision can also increase the risk of falls, as you may not be able to see obstacles in your path, or you could find it difficulty distinguishing between different surfaces. Regular eye exams and updates to glasses prescriptions can help to ensure that you have the best possible vision, reducing the risk of falls.
Foot problems, such as painful or poorly fitting shoes, may increase the risk of falls. Take care to wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit well.
Poor lighting in your home can make it difficult to see obstacles, increasing the risk of falls. Adults over 40 should take steps to improve lighting in their homes, for example, by adding lamps, installing brighter light bulbs, or using motion-sensor lights.
Cluttered spaces can create trip hazards. We should work on keeping our homes free of clutter, and if you feel you are more susceptible to falling remove or secure loose rugs, mats, and other tripping hazards.
Biological Risk Factors
Age & gender influence our risk of falls. According to the “Australian Institute of Health & Welfare”.
People aged 65 and over were more likely to be hospitalised or die due to a fall compared to other life stages.
Injuries caused by falls show females outnumbered males in hospitalisations and deaths
Medication & Falls
The Impact of Medications on Fall Risk
Some medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired balance, increasing the risk of falls. It is your responsibility to understand the potential side effects of the medication you are taking. Adherence to an exercise plan over time may see the need for your medication to be reduced.
The Importance of Reviewing Medications
Regular reviews of medications with your doctor can help to ensure that you are taking the correct doses which may help to minimise falls.
After a certain age we tend to go to the doctors annually for check-ups. Take the time to review your medications with your doctor advising him on your lifestyle and any concerns you may have with the medications you are taking.
Staying Safe at Home
Making Changes to the Home Environment
We all want to live in our homes for longer. Regardless of what stage of life you are currently enjoying. Take control and make simple modifications to your home to reduce the risk of falls. These may include
- adding grab bars in the bathroom
- non slip mats in your bathroom & wet areas
- Making sure stairs are well lit
- improving lighting
- Keep your home free of trip hazards
Exercise and Physical Activity
The good news is that it is never to late to start engaging in physical activity. Regular exercise and physical activity have been shown to improve muscle strength, balance, agility, and coordination, therefore reducing the risk of falls.
The WHO Heidelberg Guidelines recommends
- Older Adults partcipate in regular activity
Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- Improved Body Strength
- Well Being & Confidence
- Significant decrease of most non-communicable diseases
- Lowers risk of falling in the home and community settings
Personally, I believe all exercise has benefits to help you live a full life especially past 50. It’s never too late to start activities such as
- Resistance Training
- Balance exercises
- Seated Aerobics
Move, Move, Move
Embrace the gift of ageing by taking charge of your health today! With a proactive approach, you can maintain your independence and prevent falls as you age. Enhance your fitness, strength, balance, and flexibility, nourish your body with healthy food, and prioritize restful sleep.
The benefits are immeasurable – live your life full of activity, and cherished moments with loved ones. Age is not a cage. Live your best life NOW
Get out, explore, and make memories that will last