Falls Prevention and Exercise
– 35% of Australians over the age of 65 suffer atleast 1 fall each year. These rates increase with people in aged care hospitals and facilities.
– Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalisation in these people.
– An older person is 300% more likely to be admitted to a nursing home after a fall than before and
over 1000% more likely after a fall that caused an injury. Falls can result in permanent disability, restriction of activity, loss of independence and a decrease in quality of life.
Risk factors for falls include
- Older age
- Poor balance
- History of falls
- Poor eyesight
- Slow reaction time
- Limitations in activity of daily living
- Muscle weakness
- Some medications that affect the brain activity
How does exercise prevent falls?
There is now good evidence that exercise prevents falls in older people, by decreasing the number of key risk factors. Such as exercise can improve balance and proprioception (feedback) from joints to the brain, it can improve muscular strength, balance confidence and walking speed as well as psychological factors and mood.
However the benefits of exercise in frailer people are less certain and multi-faceted interventions may be necessary for fall prevention in this group.
What is the best kind of exercise to prevent falls?
Exercise should include balance training performed regularly and ongoing. Good balance exercises involve controlled body movements while standing with the feet close together with little arm support.
The exercises will be safe for the patient, but they will be challenging to ensure balance and muscular strength improves. Some exercises you can even take home and perform them away from the clinical setting to allow continued improvement.