Why do aged people fall?

2 Aug, 2016

Fall-related injury: Why aged people experience this

Who is falling and what are the health consequences?

Fall-related injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for older people. In NSW each year, falls lead to about 30 000 hospitalisations and at least 300 deaths in people aged 65 years and over.4 Even non-injurious falls can have negative impacts such as loss of confidence, reduced participation in activities, falls are the most commonly reported adverse event among hospital inpatients.

First of all, a fall is defined as an unexpected event in which the person comes to rest on the ground, floor or lower level1. Falls are common among older people with up to one in three people aged 65 years or over falling at least once a year, with many falling more than once2. Falls are even more common among residents of residential aged care facilities, with up to half of all residents falling at least once per a year.3 

Risk factors for falls among older people

Falls are more common with advancing age, with higher rates in those aged over 85 than compared to those at 65. One of the strongest predictors of future falls is past falls. Risk factors for falls are usually divided into: Intrinsic/Internal: Those that are particular to the person such as poor balance, chronic condition, poor vision. Extrinsic/External: Environmental and hazards both in and out of the home.

Common risk factors for falls:

  • Previous fall
  • Poor mental state
  • Unsafe mobility
  • Visual impairment
  • Incontinence
  • Medications
  • Home Hazards
  • Chronic health conditions
  • General wellness
Senior falling

What we can do to help to prevent fall-related injury

The list below shows evidence based effective interventions to help reduce and prevent falls:

  • Specific exercise programs: Home exercise program including balance retraining and muscle strengthening that has been prescribed by a health Professional (eg: Physiotherapist)
  • Home hazard assessment and modification
  • Prescribing modification program for general practitioners

Recommendations for physical activity to prevent falls in older people: The recommendations are (Sherrington et al, 2008:4) 5

  • Exercise which has focus on balance training has the greatest effect on falls
  • Programs of at least 2 hours of exercise per week for 6months are more effective that lower dose programs.
  • Programs should be designed according to the needs of the target population to ensure they provide exercise that is challenging yet safe.
  • Walking or strength training as a single intervention does not appear to prevent falls.

What should I do now?

Have you or a loved one experienced a fall-related injury? One of our experienced physiotherapists at Generation Physio will be able to help. No need to travel to a clinic as our physiotherapists are mobile and will be able to travel to you. This way we can deliver our consultation within your very own home. Contact us for further information on how we can help.

Resources:

  1. Lamb SE, Jorstad-Stein EC, Hauer K, Becker C. Development of a common outcome data set for fall injury prevention trials: the Prevention of Falls Network Europe consensus. J Am Geriatr Soc 2005;53(9):1618-22.
  2. NSW Department of Health. Report on Adult Health from the New South Wales Population Health Survey. Sydney: NSW Health Department, 2007.
  3. Norton R, Butler M. Prevention of Falls and fallrelated injuries among institutionalised older people. Wellington: University of Auckland, 1997.
  4. Bradley C, Harrison JE. Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia, 2003 – 2004. Injury Research and statistics series number 32 (AIHW
  5. Sherrington C, Lord S, Close J. Best practice recommendations for physical activity to prevent falls in older adults (unpublished repo

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