Falls, a common problem for ageing people can be caused by many reasons and often the cause is multi-factorial, and requires a multi-disciplinary approach to treat any injuries sustained during the fall and to prevent any future falls. It is usually a decrease in bone density that contributes to falls and resultant injuries. Some people believe that falls are a normal part of ageing, and as such are not preventable. Lack of knowledge leads to lack of preventive action, resulting in falls.
Falls are also known to be a leading cause of death in older adults. Falls may lead to 20% to 30% of mild-to-severe injuries, and are the underlying cause of 10% to 15% of all emergency department visits. The major clinical conditions for fall-related hospital admissions are hip fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and upper limb injuries. The duration of hospital stay after fall injuries ranges from 4 to 15 days and may be longer when associated with hip fractures, advancing age, and frailty. 30% to 50% of older adults fear a fall, and one-third report restricting their activities. (Ref: Asian Journal of Gerontology & Geriatrics Vol. 9 No 1 June 2014)
Risk Factors of Falls
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency in the body
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Use of medicines such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or poor quality footwear
- Dangers at home such as broken or uneven steps, throws, rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
How to prevent falls?
- Ask your doctor to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
- Ask your doctor to review your medicines to see if they make you dizzy or sleepy
- Ask your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements with calcium.
- Do Strength and Balance Exercises
- Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance.
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
MAKE YOUR HOME FALL-PROOF
- Get rid of things you could trip over
- Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet
- Put railings on both sides of stairs
- Make sure your home is sufficiently and brightly lit at all times to improve visibility
FALL PREVENTION PROGRAM
Nightingales Medical Trust’s Fall Prevention Program commonly involves an assessment of fall risk factors, education, exercises, medication review and modifications, home safety interventions by physical therapists, correction of refractive errors, and prescription of appropriate assistive devices. Our program is comprehensively designed and includes Strength and Balance exercises with Elastic Band exercises for Agility and Coordination which effectively reduces falls and fall risks in older adults.