Falling (or fear of falling) can lead to loss of confidence and restriction of daily activities for an older person. Whether it is many falls, or just one serious fall, it is essential to work actively to regain mobility and confidence as soon as possible. Evidence shows that greater confidence in mobility is associated with fewer falls and better quality of life.
What causes falls?
There are over 400 risk factors for falling including
- Having fallen before
- Poor balance
- Loss of strength
- The wrong walking stick or frame
- A risky environment e.g. poor lighting, loose rugs, poorly fitting shoes
- Certain health conditions such as stroke, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and many others
- Taking more than 3 medications
- Some specific medications
- Bladder or bowel incontinence (even mild problems)
- Poor vision
How can I minimise the risk of falling?
- If you have fallen before it is important to be assessed by physiotherapist experienced in falls prevention
- Improve your balance through Tai Chi or have a physiotherapist design an individualised exercise programme for you
- Improve your strength with regular physical activity such as walking and gardening. If you are not able to get out and about On the Go Physio can design a programme for you to do at home
- If you use a stick or walking frame it should have been measured for you by a physiotherapist. On the Go Physio can check this for you and make sure it still suits your needs
- Ensure a safe home environment, you can download a keeping your home safe guide here or arrange to have your home checked out by the professionals at On the Go Physio
- Talk to your GP about your medications or any concerns you have regarding your risk of falls
- Talk to your GP if you have any bowel or bladder incontinence
- Have your vision checked each year
- Consider having a personal alarm especially if you live alone
What should I do if I have fallen
- It is good to have a plan in place in case of a fall. This can include knowing the best way to get up off the ground if you are not injured. On the Go Physio can teach you safe ways to get up with or without help, a skill that should be practised regularly. If you are injured or unable to get up then you need to activate your personal alarm or phone for an ambulance. Just because you call an ambulance does not mean you will necessarily have to go into hospital.
- You should always let your GP know that you have had a fall, even if you weren’t hurt.
After the emergency has passed
- Consider why you fell, did you trip on something that can be fixed to prevent it happening again? Did you try and get up to fast? If you fall regularly it is worth recording them in a falls diary and showing this to your physiotherapist or GP as there may be a pattern
- If you have experienced an injury from the fall you may need input from a physiotherapist to help get you back to normal. On the Go Physio is registered with ACC so if your injury is covered you will not need to pay the full cost of the visit
- If you feel shaken by the fall it is important that you try and get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible to prevent a loss of confidence. On the Go Physio can help with this.
How can On the Go Physio help me
Home safety assessment *
A thorough look at your home and outdoor environment by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist including a written report on changes you can make to enhance your safety at home. This usually takes around one hour.
A home and person safety assessment *
A thorough look at your home and outdoor environment by a physiotherapist including a written report on the changes you can make to enhance your safety at home. An assessment of your strength, balance and current activity levels. Written advice on what you can do to enhance your strength and balance and decrease your falls risk. Includes a letter to your GP to inform them of the outcome of the visit (if you agree to this). Usually takes up to two hours.
Falls prevention exercise *
Building strength and balance is vital to decrease your risk of falls. Our team can help with this with individual exercise prescription, regular appointments or helping you find an exercise group in your area.