Improve your strength and balance to stay steady on your feet
An article in the British Medical Journal found that a programme of home-based exercise can help prevent falls in the elderly.
As we grow older, many of us become more prone to trips and falls, with around a third of people over 65 suffering a fall each year. Falls in later life can be serious, causing injuries such as concussion and hip fractures and leading to a loss of self-confidence and independence, so it’s important to take action to minimise our risk of falling and keep ourselves safe.
Importance of exercise
Part of the reason we fall more as we get older is that we lose some of our strength, balance and flexibility, causing us to become less steady on our feet. Luckily however, exercise can be used to counteract this.
According to a recent research paper in the British Medical Journal, following a programme of home-based exercise can help to prevent falls amongst the elderly population. The experiment concentrated on women over the age of 80 and involved giving participants an individual programme of strength and balance retraining exercises that they could follow at home. As a result of the exercise programme, researchers saw a noticeable decrease in the number of falls suffered, with the biggest difference being seen in people who previously fell often.
If this is something you think you could benefit from, make an appointment to see your GP. They can refer you to a physiotherapist who will be able to design an effective strength and balance training regime that is tailored to your specific needs.
As well as home-based exercises, older people can also benefit from taking part in gentle sports and activity such as Tai Chi, walking, dancing and swimming. Many community centres and gyms also offer exercise classes that are geared specifically towards older people. So think about what you enjoy doing, seek advice from your doctor, and get out there and get active. As well as helping you to avoid falls, it will also have a positive impact on your general health and wellbeing.
As well as committing to a programme of exercise, there are a number of additional measures you can take to help minimise your risk of falling. A health MOT should be first on your list. Some health conditions and medications can cause dizziness or disorientation which, in turn can lead to trips and falls, so if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor who will be able to identify any underlying health problems and review your existing medication if necessary. Given that poor vision contributes to more than a quarter of a million falls in older people each year, regular eye check-ups are also a must.
Your environment makes a big difference when it comes to avoiding falls, so make sure your home is safe, secure and free of dangers. Carrying out a hazard assessment of your home can help you to identify potential risks within the home, and enable you to take the necessary steps to minimise those risks, whether that’s doing something as simple as moving furniture from high-traffic areas and improving the lighting, or taking more permanent measures such as installing grab bars in the bathroom.
The familiarity of your surroundings also plays a big role when it comes to ensuring your health and safety, and people who stay in their own homes with the help of a live in carer are perhaps less susceptible to falls than those who have to move somewhere unfamiliar such as a care home or relative’s house. Hiring a live in carer enables you to remain in your own home, surrounded by familiar objects and following familiar routines, whilst providing you with any additional support you may need. And, if the worst happens and you do take a tumble, you can feel assured that your carer will immediately be on hand to help.
To find out how our live-in carers could help you to remain safe and independent in your own home, please give our team a call.