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Did you know that around one in three adults over the age of 65 will have at least one fall a year. Half of these again will fall more regularly. Sadly the natural ageing process means you have an increased risk of falling. As you know the outcome of a fall can be anything from a few grazes and hurt pride to something more serious like a broken bone(s). Not trying to be alarmist but the simple fact is that in the UK the most common cause of injury related to death is a fall.
Perhaps the biggest and most devastating impact of a fall or series of falls is the resulting loss of confidence you feel. We see this all the time in the clinic. It leads to limiting or stopping activities you love such as gardening in certain areas of your garden, coastal walks, your Pilates class or going shopping.
The psychological impact of this can be huge. Limiting social activities has a massive impact on our mood, wellbeing and can bring huge loneliness, frustration and fear into your life. Many see these things as a sign of losing their independence too and become very withdrawn.
Falling is horrid. There are lots of things you can do to minimise the risks of it happening. We also strongly advise speaking to your GP about it too because there could be an underlying medical reason why it is happening. There are also schemes and falls clinics you can go to for help.
Today I’m going to tell you some of the most common causes of a fall.
1. Visual Problems: anything from wearing the wrong glasses to macular degeneration can play a part in falling. We use our vision massively to help balance when we aren’t able to rely on the information coming from our joints and muscles or our inner ear balance mechanisms. So, things that compromise your vision can make you more unsteady on your feet.
2. Dim lighting – you can’t see any obstacles in your way or where you are going.
3. Not switching a light on when going out to the loo or going down the stairs at night.
4. Muscle weakness, reduced range in your joints and the resulting balance problems. For more information on this read this blog (link to How to Prevent Falling When You Are Older)
5. Problems with your inner ear balance mechanisms. We this feedback along with our vision and what our joints and muscles are telling us to keep balance. Any impact to one of these systems means we rely more on the other systems.
6. Turning around too quickly either to look over your shoulder or face the other direction.
7. Long term health conditions such as low blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, or Parkinsons disease.
8. Rushing to the loo at night and not stopping the get yourself awake in sitting before launching off towards the bathroom.
9. Rushing on the stairs
10. Tripping on the edges of rugs or mats
11. Wet, slippery floors or highly polished floors
12. Walking on ice or snow
13. Poorly fighting shoes or slippers. The worst can be mule type shoes with no back to them or slippers you have squashed the back down of.
14. Reaching for things such as cupboards or shelves
15. Falling from chairs or ladders you are using to do jobs!
16. Looking up for a sustained period of time to do things like change a light bulb or paint a ceiling
17. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and attempting to do the can can or other awesome dancing moves! All joking aside, drinking alcohol obviously has an affect on our balance by reducing our inner ear balance mechanisms.
This week your “One Thing” to think about is someone you know or love who has fallen and think about the impact it has had on their life. They may not have shared their fear, worries, concerns or frustrations with you but I am certain they will have them and limited their activities in some way. Perhaps think about how your life has changed as the result of a fall.
It is often hard to admit you do fall. People commonly feel foolish, embarrassed or frightened.
Please don’t become another one of those nasty falls statistics. See your GP or Physio and do something about your balance problems or falls. Take some positive action!