Falls prevention- what can I do to help myself?
At this time of year, as the weather gets colder and the roads more icy there is an increased risk of falls. Falls, especially those that result in hip fractures, can have a huge impact on not only the unlucky person, but also their family and the social care and health system. It is a sad fact that 20% of the elderly that fall and fracture their hip die within a year and over 80% will never return to their pre-fall lifestyle. The fall can also not only cause pain and discomfort, but social isolation, depression and fear of another fall.
Sadly in clinic we see the result of falls, sometimes those that haven’t resulted in a break, but never the less, they can still result in pain and loss of confidence.
The best remedy for falls is to look at prevention and to identify those people at risk and to lessen risk factors. Whilst it is true that treatment post fall helps, it is far better to look at prevention and maintaining factors too as part of the bigger picture. Maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise plan is essential in this.
Improving strength and mobility can be assisted by treatment and also regular exercise. Working on your balance with exercise like Thai Chi and Yoga is also wise. Regular bio-feedback work to enhance your awareness of joint positioning can also be helpful as can home exercise programmes to keep ankles and feet mobile. The local ‘fall prevention team’ are great advocates to Thai Chi as it helps to enhance lower limb strength and balance too, to keep people more ‘grounded’ or steady where they may otherwise fall.
Your osteopath will be able to advise you on self-help measures to try at home, alongside recommending exercise programmes you could try too. Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to falls.
Many of the local gyms and church halls offer Pilates, yoga and Thai chi classes all of which could help. Ideally the smaller the class the better and choosing a beginners option too works well. There are some which are more geared towards the over 50’s too, so look around and ask around too and make change happen!