Saddleworth Physiotherapy Clinic looks at what actions to take to help to prevent a fall.
For more information, find the clinic at 18 High Street, Uppermill, call them on 01457 871777 or visit: www.saddleworthphysio.co.uk
AM I at risk of a fall? Everyone is more at risk as they age; we can’t change our biological age but by understanding the risks, we can take preventative action.
If we look at photographs of us taken 30 years ago we can see the changes that have happened on the outside but it’s the changes on the inside that put us at greater risk of falling.
As we age our balance and reaction times slow as do our reflexes. This means it’s more difficult to remain upright when stumbling or over reaching. However it’s surprisingly easy to improve balance with simple regular exercises.
Between the ages of 50 to 70 we lose an average of 30 per cent of our muscle strength. Current UK guidelines recommend 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. This could include walking, gardening, dancing and housework.
A decrease in muscle strength, especially when combined with stiff, painful, arthritic joints, increases our risk of a fall. It is also incredibly difficult to get up from a fall if muscles are weak.
Physiotherapists are able to advise on simple exercises to improve muscle strength and range of movement in the joints.
Bones become thinner and more brittle with ageing which increases the likelihood of a fracture when falling.
Women are more at risk of osteoporosis than men but deficiency of Vitamin D also makes the bones more likely to break. Vitamin D is obtained not only through diet but also from exposure to sunlight. People who are housebound or do not go outside regularly are likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
Weight bearing exercises such as walking or dancing maintain strong bones and should be combined with a healthy diet and regular exposure to sunlight (on the face and arms is sufficient).
If you need to hurry to the toilet especially in the dark at night, a fall is more likely. Up to six million people in the UK currently have continence issues but these can be helped by talking to the physiotherapist or GP.
If you’ve fallen before you’re at much greater risk of having a subsequent fall. Falling can also contribute to loss of confidence and ultimately to a loss of independence.
Physiotherapy can help improve your strength and balance. We can teach you how to get up from the floor if you do fall and ultimately help you maintain your independence.