Preventing falls in older people

Sundial Clinics BrightonA wonderful new study suggests that falls in older people can be prevented by a simple series of exercises. Exercises that work on balance, strength and gait could be helpful. The researchers highlight TaiChi as being a good example of this sort of exercise.

If you are concerned about falling yourself or concerned about a relative we would recommend a balance, flexibility and strength check up at Sundial prior to a new exercise regime. We can advise on what would be the most suitable exercise for you.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. A panel of health experts looked at the studies into fall prevention and came up with a series of guidelines which look at what increases the risk of falling. They concluded that the condition of feet and footwear, mobility and muscle strength, heart function, vision, neurological impairments, medications, low blood pressure and environmental hazards all had a role to play.

The research examined several studies which identified ways to help prevent falls. The team found that Tai Chi reduced the risk of having a fall by 35%. Interestingly strength and flexibility training on its own was not  helpful. So lifting weights while sitting in a chair won’t help but being upright and having to balance is. Walking also is likely to help with overall falls too.

The guidelines go further though. It is strongly recommended to reduce medication where it is safe to do so. Taking many different drugs and especially those that effect the brain are especially problematic. As always this should be done with your doctors help.

Foot problems were also identified as adding to the danger of falls. Bunions, painful feet, nail problems, poor footwear and ulcers should be dealt with promptly. Our podiatrist can help here and the chiropractors can help with foot and ankle function and prescribe orthotics.

The final recommendation was for older people to take a Vitamin D supplement if a deficiency is suspected. Vitamin D deficiencies are very common in the elderly.

These simple guidelines may well help you or someone you know from hurting themselves. If you would like further advice – give us a call.

For a look at the original study go here