Preventing Falls in the Elderly

Nicole Jewell (11-23-13)

firefox-grayIn the UK alone, more than half-a-million elderly people end up in hospital emergency departments each year after a fall.

Not only is a fall traumatic for the patient and their family, falls and resulting injuries in the ageing population mount up to 4 million bed days in England at a cost of £2 billion.

It is little wonder that the phenomenon is attracting the attention of researchers aiming to address the matter.

French Studies Point to Exercise

Researchers in France have carried out extensive studies on the connection between exercise in ageing people and prevention of falls. The findings make interesting food for thought.

Following participation in a fall-prevention exercise program, older adults were 37 per cent less prone to be seriously hurt during a fall compared to those who didn’t exercise.

Although researchers admit that the findings are not conclusive, they are an interesting indicator of how keeping fit can play a part in easing the impact of a tumble.

They say the reasons are simple; exercise promotes balance and can even contribute to a sharper mind which, in itself, can prevent a fall.

In a separate study, Swiss researchers found that an hour of exercise to music every week can help improve balance in the elderly.

Make Life Easy

With falls amongst the elderly and related psychological, physical and financial costs a real concern, it’s important to not only address exercise routines, but make the home a safer place in the event of a tumble.

Stairs are notoriously difficult for those in the later years of their lives and one reason why many senior citizens move into one-level accommodation.

However, not everybody can or even wants to face the upheaval of a move from a multi-storey home. The question is how to adapt a building so that stairs are not a daily trial to be faced.

A simple answer is a stair lift. Stair lifts come in multiple designs for both indoors and outdoors with just about any stairwell able to accommodate such a device.

Contractual obligations are flexible as well. It is possible to buy a new or safety-checked re-conditioned stair lift or even to rent one with only a minimal notice period required to terminate the agreement.

With falls so prevalent amongst the elderly, it is best to cut out the danger that stairs present. Falling anywhere is dangerous enough; on a staircase, it could be fatal.

Exercise With Care

Gentle yet effective forms of exercise are the most ideal for elderly people aiming to develop basic fitness.

Tai Chi is excellent for balance, stability and coordination while walking at an easy pace is good for strength and increasing confidence – especially after a fall.

For sufferers of arthritis, water aerobics is a good choice as it eases pressure on the joints while gentle strength training keeps muscles fit.

The key is to develop fitness and confidence while not overdoing any form of exercise.

For more articles on exercise, visit ElderCare Online.