25 Mar Five things you can do at home to improve balance and prevent falls
Unfortunately falls can occur throughout our lifetime yet they can become more common as people age.
Did you know that 30% of adults 65 years and over will experience at least one fall per year. It’s a very sad fact but falls remains the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Australia with approximately 200,000 falls each year resulting in hospitalisation.
As we age, risk factors for falls increases due to the normal ageing process. Some of this changes can include a person’s general health, vision, anxiety of falling, medication, reduction in strength and muscle mass. All of this can contribute to the increased risk of falls.
Many of the risks we have listed above can be managed and modified to help reduce the risk of falls. Let’s take a look at some!
The Five E’s of falls prevention can be effective at reducing the risk of falls and also injury related to falls.
1. Environment: Take a look around the home in each room and remove any hazards that may be a falls hazard.
‒ Repair or remove loose rugs and floorboards from your home.
‒ Use non-slip mats in your bathtub or shower, or use a shower chair in the bathroom.
‒ Remove any clutter around the house for easy access.
‒ Make sure you have adequate lighting throughout the house.
– Place night lights or have a torch in easy access.
‒ Install railings and grab rails as needed.
‒ Wear appropriate, supportive and well fitted shoes.
2. Exercise: Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce risks, in fact, the more we exercise the better our strength and balance will become!
Exercises that can help to reduce the risk of falls include:
‒ Balance exercises: these include exercises such as standing on one leg.
‒ Resistance / strength training: using hand-held weights, resistance bands, body weight exercises and gym-based exercise machines.
‒ Flexibility exercise such as Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.
‒ Aerobic exercise that are low impact including walking.
3. Eyes ‒ Have an annual eye test to monitor for any visual changes including cataracts and other eye or vision changes.
4. Ears ‒ Hearing loss has been associated with the increased risk of falls.
‒ Dizziness can also contribute to falls including Vertigo and other inner ear problems.
‒ Have your hearing checked to monitor for any changes.
5. Education ‒ A great way to reduce risk is to educate yourself on all the steps you can take to improve your own safety. This could be attended education talks and seminars or even understanding what medication you are taking. Medication cause adverse reactions to your balance, vision or hearing so learn about this through talking to your GP or Pharmacist.
Consider yoga and Pilates to improve balance!
Where to from here?
Taking part in an exercise program should be something that we aspire to continue for many years. Changing our own behaviour is important to stick to an exercise program is a fantastic way to improve our own safety.
Making the exercise program something that is enjoyable, sociable as well as benefitting your health can be a way to improved health, reducing the risk of falls, and maintaining your independence. Participating in group exercise programs catering to older adults is a way to ensure safety and gaining benefits for your health.
Exercise programs such as Tai Chi, gentle group exercise classes, yoga and Pilates for seniors, as well as going for a walk are all appropriate and beneficial physical activities.
If you’d like to know more about improving you balance, there are hundreds of Accredited Exercise Physiologists who can support you through one on one sessions or in a group class setting. To find your closest expert, click here.
Written by: Silvana Deep (Accredited Exercise Physiologist, ESSAM)
https://www.healthline.com/symptom/dizziness#causes Vitkovic, J., Le, C., Lee, S. L., & Clark, R. A. (2016). The contribution of hearing and hearing loss to balance control. Audiology and neurotology, 21(4), 195-202.