FALL PREVENTION IN ELDERLY!

“Old age is not a disease- it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illness.”- Maggie Kuhn

The above mentioned quote is a reminder to all of us, not just the elderly but even for their loved ones that aging or rather “Active aging” as World Health Organization (WHO) states it as, is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.

Falls and Elderly Population:

Individuals aged 60 years and above define the elderly population. With aging, they are at an increased risk of having a fall(s).

Falls can be risky especially among the elderly population. But don’t you worry, a little bit of information can keep you and your loved ones to be more cautious and help in preventing any sort of unforeseen hazards.

Leading cause of falls in elderly:

Various reasons can lead to falls in elderly, but most common ones are due to any pre-existing medical condition, imbalance or poor vision or side effects of their medications.

Factors increasing the risk of falls in elderly:

There are many factors that predispose our elderly population at a risk of falls.

Due to the process of progressive decline in internal physiological (bodily) functioning as well as external (environmental) factors, they can be at risk.

The severity of the risk can be determined by undergoing a thorough examination for Fall Risk assessment. You can contact your consultant physiotherapist for evaluating and guiding you through this process.

If utmost care is not taken, falls can cause:

  • morbidities/injuries like: bruise, cut, fracture, head injury.
  • reduced functioning.
  • hospitalization.

Especially in times of this pandemic, we all would want to prevent any such instance that put them at a greater risk of exposure due to difficult access to emergency facilities.

How do we reduce this risk?

No better measure than prevention, which can help us to keep our elderly at a lesser risk of falling.

FEATURE: One should seek help of a physiotherapist for a detailed assessment of the elderly prior to prescription of exercise regimen and customized program for fall prevention under complete guidance.

  1. Strength (Resistance) Training:
  1. Aerobic Training:
  • Cycle Ergometry:
  • Chair Aerobics:
  • Brisk Walking- Walk and talk:

Some of our senior citizens are often seen together in the parks, gardens or walking tracks, cracking jokes, communicating and enjoying their fitness routine while in company of others. Due to current situations, considering outdoor gatherings to be risky, many of them displayed reduced physical fitness.

It’s time to use the benefit of technologies! A Virtual Buddy Fitness session!

Organizing an online video calling fitness workout will not only keep them fit but also hold up their interest as they get an opportunity to reconnect with their buddies while doing so!

  1. Balance Training:
  • Standing on unstable surface:
  • Walking on line: i) With eyes open ii) With eyes closed
  1. Modifications at home and in different environments:
  • Balance out light levels:

i) Use of contrast and glare filters for very bright lighting

ii) Use of good lighting in dark spaces of the house.

  • Bathroom modification: High number of falls may occur in the bathroom due to poor grip and slippery surfaces. Hence, modifications are a must.

i) Nonslip bath mats                        

ii) Grab bar around toilet seat and bathtub

  • Staircase modification: Poor judgement for depth of step may result in high risk for falls.

i) Marking with paint                                                  

ii) Installing railings  

  1. Use of assistive device: A supportive device as per the prescription of a consultant can be of help as well.

i) Quadripod cane                                                       

ii) Walker

  • Emotional Support:

Our senior citizens display anxiety and fear when it comes to any previous incidents of falls.

Being emotionally supportive and motivating not just helps them feel comfortable but provides them with a boost of confidence that is required for their mobility in their daily life.

If we all come together and keep a positive mindset about ageing, this will be accepted, processed and adapted by our elderly with greater optimism.

“Aging is NOT lost youth, but a NEW stage of opportunity and strength” –Betty Friedan

Authored by-
Dr Kaushani Jhaveri
Masters of Physiotherapy in Neurosciences
Consultant Neurophysiotherapist 

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