Don’t lose your balance this Falls Prevention Week

Falls are a leading cause of hospital admissions in older adults, with more than 80 per cent of admissions attributed to falls, stumbles or trips.

This week, falls prevention is in the spotlight in an effort to encourage everyone to improve their balance and strength to reduce their risk of falling.

While falls are never predictable, as we grow older we become more susceptible to falls due to other health conditions that make us less active.

For older people, a fall may cause serious injury and reduce the ability to remain independent in the community. It can cause immense personal suffering, affecting their quality of life and leading to restrictions in activity and social isolation.

Peninsula Health Community and Post-Acute Care Physiotherapist Bettina Von Blomberg said it was important to keep active throughout your life.

“Keeping your mind and body stimulated by progressing your skills or learning new ones, and staying active and independent around the home can help reduce the risk of a fall,” she said.

In her role, Bettina promotes awareness for the Falls Prevention Service by visiting and speaking to clients in their own home, allowing her to analyse their environment and point out any potential hazards that could cause harm. The consultation is also an opportunity to assess the client’s mobility, strength and balance, to ensure they have the ability to safely move around their own home.

The Peninsula Health Falls Prevention Service focusses on holistic care by using a thorough, evidence based and comprehensive assessment. The assessment allows the multi-disciplinary team of Geriatricians, Dietitians, Physiotherapists and Occupational therapist to put strategies in place and provide tips to assist people who are at risk of falling.

“The simplest message is to always keep moving – whether it be a daily walk, ride or swim,” Bettina said. “There are lots of specific exercises that can be done to improve your balance.”

Exercise programs that challenge balance have a 25 per cent greater effect on preventing falls than programs that do not. Some components of these programs include, standing with feet closer together or on one leg, getting up and down out of a chair without using hands to assist, and practising controlled movements of the body’s centre of mass.

Research shows exercise can reduce the rate of falls by 23 per cent in older people living in the community.

“Exercising not only helps to prevent falls but it also assists with maintaining and improving your independence and keep you healthier for longer,” Bettina said.

“I always remind people that it’s their journey, and they need to take control of it, then they will see the benefits.”

Elderly clients living in the community who are at risk of falls can be seen by a physiotherapist for exercise prescription. If you’re looking to take control of your falls prevention journey, our Falls Prevention Service is here to help. Contact our ACCESS unit on 1300 665 781 to be referred to the Falls Prevention Service or to find a Physiotherapy program that is best suited to you.