Reducing Falls Risks in Seniors
For seniors, falling over can be a disastrous event. The risk of fractures and other serious injuries is significant and potentially life threatening. If lucky enough to avoid serious injury, the damage to confidence can result in a lack of willingness to leave the house and social isolation. Unfortunately, it is common to see a rapid deterioration in an individual’s health when they become reluctant to leave their home or engage with society.
At My Family Podiatry, we are passionate about helping individuals maintain their independence as long as possible. Below we discuss some common risk factors for falls and the ways these can be managed to reduce the risk of falling.
Improper footwear: Incorrect fitting shoes, high heels or shoes such as thongs can all increase the risk of falling. Ensure shoes and slippers are properly fitting, fastened across the top of the foot with a strap or laces/Velcro and have a non-slip sole.
Hazards around the house: Slippery surfaces (including inside showers), steps and ledges or even lifting in rugs and carpets are all possible hazards. Looking around the house, identifying and correcting these hazards may prevent a fall.
Reduced muscle strength: Reduced muscle strength leads to instability, altered gait and a significant increase in the risk of falling. At My Family Podiatry, this is one risk we actively try and correct in our patients through the prescription of exercises to increase lower limb strength. A few of our favourites are listed below:
All the exercises below should only be performed if you feel confident. If you feel unsteady at any stage, you should discontinue the exercise immediately and have a seat.
Sit to Stand:
This exercise seems simple at first but is a great test of your leg strength. You will require a chair with arm rests to perform this exercise.
From a standing position, reach back to the arm rests and use these as a guide to slowly sit down into the chair. I encourage people to take 2 seconds to slowly sit so you can make sure your leg muscles are really working. Once seated, use both your legs and arms to push yourself back up to a standing position and pause for a second standing at the top. Aim to repeat this 10 times provided you feel confident and stable throughout these repetitions.
As this exercise becomes easier, try and use less of your arms and more of your leg strength. Once you are feeling very confident, try using only one arm or no arms!
Marching on the spot:
Standing and holding the back of a sturdy chair or a bench top, stand tall and begin marching on the spot. Aim to bring your knee up toward your chest and maintain control throughout the exercise - keeping these exercises slow and controlled ensures your muscles are working properly. Perform 20 steps - 10 on each leg.
Balancing on one leg:
Standing in front of and holding onto a bench or next to to a sturdy chair. Slowly bend one leg lifting your foot from the floor. Hold this for 10 seconds before switching feet. As you become more confident, increase the amount of time you balance on each leg.
If you are concerned about your own falls risk or that of a family member, contact My Family Podiatry for an assessment and a discussion of how we may be able to help. Use the link above or call 07 3088 6116.