Fall Prevention: Understanding the Risks
By understanding the risk factors involved you can significantly minimise the chances of suffering a serious injury from falling. Even though anyone could fall and get hurt those aged 65 and older are more at risk of injuring themselves if they fall. This means that these rules become even more crucial to follow for both the elderly and their caregivers. Read on to find out exactly what the conditions are that increase your risk of falling and the steps you can take to minimise them.
Age-related sarcopenia refers to the muscle loss that occurs as we age. This can happen in varying degrees but any amount of muscle loss will reduce the strength and mobility of an individual. The balance and flexibility of our joints are also affected as we age, which further increases the risk of taking a nasty spill.
The elderly are more likely to seriously injure themselves in a fall, especially when suffering from conditions like osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. These conditions that affect the bones and joints make it more likely that a fall will result in a break or fracture which will lead to a prolonged period of immobility.
Poor posture, that remains uncorrected over a long period of time, will affect your balance as your centre of gravity shifts. Instability along with a decreased ability to react quickly to your surroundings will put you at risk of falling. Having your posture analysed and corrected by a professional biokineticist can reduce your risk of falling.
Your gait refers to your manner of walking. This is affected by your age and any long term pain you may be experiencing, perhaps from an older injury. Pain that goes untreated can lead to poor posture and, in turn, negatively affects your gait. The pain may be as a result of muscle abnormalities or even problems in the nervous system which should be diagnosed and treated accordingly as part of your fall prevention efforts.
The Correct Footwear
Sometimes the risk of falling can be greatly decreased by changing the shoes you wear. Your shoes may be causing you pain, which will affect your posture negatively and in the long-term even affect your gait. Sensible and comfortable shoes can be greatly effective as a means of fall prevention, so be sure to take this into consideration.
Dehydration and Medication
Certain factors, such as dehydration and medication, may be causing sudden bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness that could cause you to fall. Be sure to stay well hydrated, eat regularly and visit your doctor with a list of all the medication you are taking. Your doctor will be able to inform you which pills are perhaps causing you to feel dizzy and help to come up with a solution. There may be an alternative medication that you can try, or you may be able to fix the problem as easily as drinking your medication before bed rather than in the morning.
There are certain elements around the house which could be increasing your risk of falling such as clutter in your home, a slippery floor, uneven surfaces, carpets or even poor lighting. Removing these hazards from your environment will help you to minimise your risk of falling and keep you, and those living with you, safe.
Get your fall-risk assessed, and work with a professional that understands the problem, your environment and your needs.
Contact Jacky Hattingh for professional advice and assistance on how you can decrease your risk of falling.