Life of Lymph

Falls Prevention



Teaching the elderly to balance properly can cut dangerous falls by 50%

By Jenny Hope


Training: Teaching older people how to balance properly could reduce the number of falls which lead to injuries. (Posed by models)

Teaching older people how to balance properly could cut the number of falls by more than half, claim researchers.

Helping the elderly to practise getting up quickly after an accident and making adaptations to their homes are other techniques that benefit them.

Researchers say falls among older people are an underrated problem because they can lead to lengthy hospital stays and may be fatal.

One in four aged over 70 falls over each year and nearly half are over 80, many of whom have a similar incident the following year.

But community prevention programmes help people feel more confident and have less fear of falling over.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham studied more than 200 people aged over 60 who were living at home or in residential care as part of the study, published online in the British Medical Journal.

They had all suffered falls and called an ambulance, although none went to hospital.

Half were given strength and balance training by a physiotherapist, had an assessment of potential hazards in their home and received any home adaptations they needed.

They were also taught how to get up from the floor and they attended group sessions on preventing falls and extra strength training.

There was a 55 per cent drop in the rate of falls among people given support compared with the group receiving no help.

Overall, 81 people (83 per cent) receiving support reported one or more falls over the follow-up period compared with 96 (97 per cent) in the group receiving no support.

The typical time to the first fall during follow-up was 21 days in the group receiving no support but stretched to 166 days in the support group.

The number of 999 calls and hospital admissions was also lower in the support group and these people were better able to carry out usual daily activities and not as fearful of falling over.

The researchers said: 'People who have fallen and called an emergency ambulance but are not taken to hospital are at high risk of falling again.

Immediate referral of such people to a falls prevention rehabilitation service may reduce the number of further falls.

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