Falls are the main cause of morbidity and disability in elderly. More than one-third of persons 65 years age or older fall each year, and in half of such cases the falls are recurrent. The risks doubles or triples in the presence of cognitive impairment or history of previous falls. Loss balance is one of the contributing factor for the falls. Cerebellum is part of the brain which functions balance, co-ordination, fine motor control, posture and equilibrium.
Common Reasons of Fall
- Reduced physical activity and fitness:
As person gets older there is tendency to exercise less or failure to exercise which leads to reduced muscle strength, reduced bone mass, loss of balance, reduced co-ordination and decreased flexibility.
- Impaired Vision:
It can be linked to age related diseases such as cataract and glaucoma.
Side effect of certain medications such as sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, opioids are dizziness, drowsiness and low blood pressure.
- Chronic diseases:
Chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and peripheral neuropathy nerve damage.
Parkinson’s Disease which is a disorder of central nervous system causes nerve cell damage to brain results in reduced level of dopamine which is important for smooth controlled movements and muscles.As a result symptoms of the disease are resting or intentional tremors, stiffness, loss of balance and slow movements.
- Surgical procedures:
One of the common surgeries during this age are joint replacements which may leave them in pain and discomfort.
- Environmental hazards:
Many older people fall (trip or slip) inside the home or home surroundings. The interaction between physical ability and environmental factors cause falls, and taking risks or being impulsive will further increase that risk. Household hazards such as loose rugs, low furniture, clutter, pets and stairs pose the greatest risk.Outdoor hazards include poorly lit areas, uneven ground and wet/icy conditions. Inappropriate clothing (too long or restrictive) and ill-fitting shoes or slippers are also factors that affect balance and safe mobility.
- Behavioural hazard:
This depends on the level of activity person engages in for example lifting laundry basket.
- Older person’s perception of functional ability and fear relating to falling
- Urinary Incontinence
- Alteration to gait, balance and mobility, or muscle weakness
Health professionals that may be involved in preventing falls include your GP, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Podiatrist and Optometrist.
Multi Factorial Assessment
At My Physio My Heath we do a detailed assessment by our experienced physiotherapist. Key components of a multi factorial assessment include:
- A detailed falls history, medication review, risk factor assessment including osteoporosis, urinary incontinence and cardiovascular disease
- Physical examination including gait and balance, neurological and cognitive function, lower limb strength, visual acuity, feet and footwear
- Functional assessment such as activities of daily living perceived functional ability and fear of falling.
General Advice to Prevent Falls
- Clutter free home
- Properly fitted shoes and non-slip socks.
- Good lighting, small light in night and sit for a minute before getting out off the bed.
- Keep glasses, phone and emergency number within the reach.
- Call bell around the neck or alarm
- Try to avoid high bed and sleep in middle of bed
- Non-slip mat in place
- High chair on toilet if needed.
- Exercises to improve strength, flexibility and balance.
- Eating healthy nutritious food, keep up with fluid intake and wipe out the spills at home immediately.
- Wear hip protectors or limb protectors if prescribed.
Group & Individual Exercise Class Details
At My Physio My Health our experienced physiotherapists conduct a falls prevention, balance and strength exercise class every Tuesday morning 11am-12pm which includes following program.
- Warm up exercises
- Upper body exercises
- Theraband exercises/weight training
- Lower body exercises in sitting and standing
- Co-ordination and balance exercises
- Pilates based exercise as needed
- Cool down exercises