As touched on in my previous post, as you grow older, your body may get weaker. Your mobility may decline as you get older, thus making you more prone to falling.
Yes, falling, in the most literal sense of the word. As in, tripping and falling and hitting the ground. While this may seem harmless, you have to remember the impact. For instance, slipping on a puddle of water in your prime may give you nothing but an annoying bruise you’ll be able to shrug off within a few days.
If you’re in your senior years, however, that very same fall could lead to broken bones or worse, especially if you have diseases such as osteoporosis, a health condition that weakens your bones due to calcium deficiency.
But what are some risks caused by falls, exactly? We asked Joseph Chan, Chief Physiotherapist at Rehab Paradigm.
Q: What are some causes of falls?
A: Some are caused by natural deterioration with age, while some are due to existing conditions that cause the symptoms. These can include decreased strength, reaction time, tiredness or fatigue, decreased stamina and vision impairment.
There are also conditions that decrease sensation and cause numbness like diabetes which also affects mobility.
Q: What are some injuries that can be caused by falls?
A: Fractures, bruises, dislocations, head injuries, and open wounds.
Falls may also cause some mental trauma and fear of movement – which is a vicious cycle of not moving.
The bodies of those affected will get weaker and less fit as they may fear moving. This leads to a greater decline in function, and therefore may cause higher falls risk, poorer moods and confidence or quality of life.
Q: At what age range are seniors more prone to serious injuries caused by falls?
A: Age is actually not a good predictor of falls. Old age does not equate to falls.
Physical predictors like the ability to stand up from the floor are more accurate in determining one’s risk to falls.
Q: How can falls be prevented?
A: Adjustments to the environment, such as flooring, railings, enhancement of step edges, lighting, removal of clutter would help. We need to ensure the availability of safety aids to those who need assistance.
Prevention and screening by qualified experts like physiotherapists can also help, as they can monitor symptoms.
Seniors at risk can then go for therapy that helps with mobility, speed, and reaction time.
The quality of movement can also be a factor, which includes screening, educating individuals or family members and caretakers.
Seniors can see qualified therapists to do some simple testing.
For example, they can go through a battery of tests to see if they are at high risk for falls, and to investigate which aspects they need to improve on such as poor muscle strength or balance.
Q: Are there any safety devices that can help prevent falls?
A: Yes, but these safety devices have their own pros and cons. For example, a walking frame may support well but limit mobility up and down stairs or through narrow spaces.
Walking sticks can help seniors go anywhere but offer less support. The important thing is to match the individual with the most suitable aid to provide a balance between mobility and support.
Joseph also adds that the consequences of particularly bad falls can lead to the increased medical fees to treat the injuries, along with increased pressure on caregivers.
Rehab Paradigm can offer all these services and more. With skilled therapists armed with the latest techniques, they offer therapy for all parts of the body, from bones and muscles to the brain. All their therapy is conducted with a heart!