Have you or a loved one had a fall or nearly fallen recently? Each year, 1 in 3 over the age of 65 in Ireland experience a fall. 20 to 30% of these wind up with injuries ranging from broken teeth to broken hips. The incidence increases to 50% for those aged 80 and older. Falls and their accompanying serious and less serious injuries can lead to a cascade of medical problems, the onset of severe disability, the end of independent living and the beginning of round-the-clock care. A natural consequence of aging is that our balance can begin to deteriorate as we lose muscle strength and tone. Unfortunately, two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within 6 months. As well as any associated injury, confidence and independence can really take a knock following a fall. Strangely, being afraid of falling makes us more likely to fall in the future.
Contributing factors to reduced mobility and falls in older people include:
- A previous history of falling
- Having a fear of falling
- Reduced strength and muscle mass
- Reduced balance
- Being on 4 or more medications
- Dizziness / vestibular problems
- Visual impairment
- Foot problems
- Poor bladder control
The good news is that there is plenty we can do to improve our mobility and help reduce the risk of a falls in the future. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to decrease your risk of having a fall. Regular exercise will lead to stronger muscles, better balance, increased confidence and improved ability and mobility. Chartered physiotherapists are experts in movement and mobility and are ideally placed to help people improve several of their risk factors for falls.
Balance training has been shown to reduce fall risk by 50%. Talk to your GP or Chartered Physiotherapist about your risk, and join one of our classes to improve balance.
At Galway City Physiotherapy, our have experienced physiotherapists run a weekly Balance Class which aims to improve the walking, balance and strength of older people at risk of falling. Interventions are tailored to each individual person as no two people are the same. Following an extensive introduction and assessment, your physiotherapist will devise a plan to address any deficits or problems there may be. This would include regular check-ups to monitor progress and alter the plan appropriately.
Benefits of a falls prevention exercise program can include improved
- Bone density
- Quality of life
Our classes are evidence-based on the Otago Falls Prevention Programme which can reduce falls by over one third, and even up to 40% in frail older adults, and has been shown to have statistically significant improvements in clinical scores in as little as 8 weeks. You’ll need to learn what to do, and our Chartered Physiotherapists are well-experienced in this regard.
To keep your body as safe as possible for as long as possible, keep it moving. Now is the best time to decide how you would like to live next year, in 5, 10 or even 20 years time. Do you want to be independent, confident, active and mobile? A few small things done regularly now will have a big impact on your quality of life in the future.