Don’t Succumb to Muscle & Bone Weakness – visit your physio
Anyone can trip or fall, and risk increases as we get older. Often you people say it was a silly accident and write it off as a one-off. But as we get older, falls can become more serious. Therefore, learning how to reduce fall risks and knowing how to cope with falls becomes much more important.
If you’re lucky you may only suffer cuts and bruises. These take longer to heal the older you get. This can be due to poorer circulation, fragility of our skin and healing rates further affected by the like of diabetes and medication. But one of the greatest threats to long-term health and wellbeing, comes from fractures. Fractures to the wrist and arm can lead to permanent disability if not treated properly and if physio and rehab aren’t undertaken under proper supervision.
Even minor falls can have a negative effect on older adults. The impact of self-confidence though can be more profound. After a fall, you may be tempted to limit your physical activity, afraid to fall again. When you reduce your exercise regime, muscles and joints become weaker and stability is reduced, further increasing the risk of another fall. Yet another reason to consult a physio and make sure you rehab responsibly.
Add bone-weakening conditions, osteoporosis into the mix and we have a perfect storm threatening our wellbeing in the older age. therefore, preventing falls in the first place should be a priority. The good news is that falls can be prevented with some simple precautions and some preparation helping you to avoid injuring yourself in the first place.
Reduce your risk of falls with exercise and physio
EXERCISE – Get help and advice from a physical therapist about which exercises and activities you can do safely. The stronger your muscles and joints are, the better they will be able to support you on a stable base when walking around. And they can react better and faster should you trip and hopefully help stop a full fall to the ground and stronger muscles will also help you get up more easily if you do fall. The more active you are the better chance you have of maintaining your mobility and independence, which in turn is better for your health, self-esteem and self-confidence.
PHYSIOTHERAPY – Ask your physical therapist about local falls prevention programmes which will help you build strength, improve balance and give you some really good information on how to deal with a fall.
MEDICATION – Speak to your doctor about your medication and ones that could be changed to reduce your risk of falling
EYES & EARS – Have your eyes and hearing checked once a year. Good vision will prevent those accidental trips on things you didn’t see and proper hearing helps improve your balance and orientation.
YOUR FEET – See a a podiatrist to take good care of your feet as pain can affect your ability to walk properly.
CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR & PHYSIO – If your doctor or physical therapist suggests a cane or walking frame to help you walk, please use it! This will give you extra stability when walking and may help you avoid a bad fall.
USE STAIR RAILS – Do not use stairs without rails on both sides for support. If you must carry something while you are going up or down, hold it in one hand and use the handrail with the other.
DON’T TAKE CHANCES – Stay away from a freshly washed floor that could be slippery when wet. Similarly, be careful going outside in winter, icy paths are very dangerous and slippery for everyone.
People often think that as clinicians and physiotherapist practitioners, we only deal with the healthy and sporty. This is not the case at all and falls prevention is one of those areas in which we have particular expertise. We also have a whole range of free advice leaflets and exercise sheets, like this one, on many different aspects of health, and we can recommend local programmes and support should you need more advice.