The Leading Factor of Fall Risk: Muscle Deterioration

The Leading Factor of Fall Risk: Muscle Deterioration image

The leading factor of fall risk, the risk of falling in the persons over the age of 60 years, is muscle deterioration and a sedentary lifestyle. This article will help you to better understand what this means and what some of the contributing factors are to muscle deterioration. Understand that there are things that you can do to prevent muscle weakness and often even reverse it. The checklist below will give you an idea of whether you have some risks and I advise that, should you answer "Yes" to 3 or more questions, that you consider a full risk assessment and then to implement the lifestyle changes.

What is Fall Risk Patient?

A fall risk patient is usually determined by their age and whether they have good balance and posture. The following checklist will help you determine if you have a high risk of falling as a result of natural muscle deterioration.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may be at risk of falling and sustaining an injury.

1.      Are you over the age of 60 years? Yes | No

2.      Can you balance on 1 leg without holding on for more than 20 seconds? Yes | No 

3.      Do you have any foot problems or painful feet? Yes | No

4.      Do you have a fear of falling? Yes | No

5.      Do you have difficulty getting up from a chair? Yes | No

6.      Do you feel unsteady when you are walking or having to turn around? Yes | No

7.      Do you feel your posture needs improvement? Yes | No

8.      Do you live a sedentary lifestyle? (Not participating in physical exercise) Yes | No

Are you a fall risk patient?

If you cannot balance on one leg for more than 20 seconds unassisted or you have checked one or more of the other boxes keep reading to determine what can be done to slow the rate of muscle deterioration in your body and minimise your risk of falling.

What is Muscle Deterioration?

Muscle deterioration, also known as Sarcopenia, is the natural loss of skeletal muscle mass as a result of ageing, nutrient deficiencies or other disease conditions. Loss of muscle mass has a direct impact on your strength and then also your balance, this process can certainly be slowed down and even improved. The most important contributing factor to muscle deterioration and muscle loss is a sedentary lifestyle.

Factors that Accelerate Muscle Deterioration

Immobility – a sedentary lifestyle leads to increased weakness in the muscles. This is especially common after bed rest due to an injury or illness which leads to rapid loss of strength in the muscles.

Insufficient Diet – if your diet is not providing enough calories and protein you will experience diminished muscle mass. This may be an unconscious choice due to other elements of ageing like changes in taste as well as problems with teeth, gums and swallowing.

Pain, Swelling and Inflammation – chronic inflammation due to disease conditions such as arthritis, disrupts the natural healing cycles and also causes muscle weakness and deterioration.

Stress– retirement is not always a pleasant experience for all, it may cause severe stress which, may lead to isolation and avoiding activities you once participated in and this stress and change in lifestyle has its own effects on physical deterioration.



Exercise is still the most effective way to promote healthy aging and prevent falls

·         it results in a decrease in all-cause mortality,

·         reduce the risk of functional limitation,

·         reduce the risk of falling, hypertension, diabetes, colorectal cancer, breast cancer,

·         improves cognitive function

·         improves physical function, quality of life, gait speed, balance and activities of daily living


Should you notice that you suddenly feel unsure when you have to step off a pavement, or hang onto a stair rail for dear life, then maybe it is time that you have your balance assessed and make the necessary  effort to prevent a fall that often ends up in complications. Contact Jacky Hattingh.

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