Staying safe and steady: how to reduce the risk of falls
Falls and fall-related injuries are common for older adults, with approximately 30% of adults 60 years of age or older falling each year 1
There are numerous reasons for falls2 including:
- Impaired balance
- Impaired gait (walking)
- Reduced muscle strength
- Poor vision
- Use of multiple medications
- Fear of falling
- Inappropriate footwear
- Environmental hazards within and outside the home
Good news – there are numerous actions you can take you reduce your risk of falling!
- Regular exercise reduces your risk of falling. There is strong evidence that exercise reduces the rate of falls in community dwelling older adults by ~ 25%3
- Regular optometry reviews to ensure your glasses prescription is appropriate.
- Medication reviews. This can include a discussion about the timing of medications, or whether alternate medications are available to reduce your risk of falling.
- Podiatry review if you have concerns about your feet or footwear.
- Medical and/or pelvic floor physiotherapy review of incontinence issues.
- Examine your home for potential hazards that may lead to falls
Fear of falling significantly increases your risk of having a fall. However it’s not very helpful to be told “don’t be afraid of falling.”
Some strategies to reduce your fear of falling:
- Have a balance assessment so you have objective data about your falls risk.
- Engage in regular balance and strengthening exercises to improve your confidence.
- Learn how to get on and off the floor independently. In one study, > 50% of older adults who could NOT independently get off the floor were fallers4.
- Montero-Odasso MM, Kamkar N, Pieruccini-Faria F, et al. Evaluation of Clinical Practice Guidelines on Fall Prevention and Management for Older Adults: A Systematic Review. JAMA Netw Open.2021;4(12):e2138911. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.38911
- Queensland Stay on Your Feet ®
- Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N., Kwok, W. et al.Evidence on physical activity and falls prevention for people aged 65+ years: systematic review to inform the WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 17, 144 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-020-01041-3
- Ardali G, States RA, Brody LT, Godwin EM. Characteristics of Older Adults Who Are Unable to Perform a Floor Transfer: Considerations for Clinical Decision-Making. J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2020 Apr/Jun;43(2):62-70. doi: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000189. PMID: 29630004.