If you’re concerned about having a fall, you’re not alone. One-third of all people aged 65+ will fall once or more this year. If you’ve experienced a fall, then there’s a good reason to feel anxious about having another. One in ten falls by those 65+ will result in a fracture. Stress fractures from falls can take a long time to heal and seriously affect your mobility. The mere thought of this may be stopping or changing the way you move about in your daily life.
Falls happen because of age-related conditions such as the decline of vision, hearing and peripheral sensation, research tells us. Bifocal glasses are wonderful inventions, but they can misrepresent distance, particularly when walking down stairs or noticing a raised edge. A shuffling walk, rather than lifting your feet, can easily mis-step. Your strength will determine how easily it is to get back on your feet after a fall. And a reduced balance reaction means that it is harder to recover balance once the fall has started.
The good news is that there is are lots of things that can be to keep you steady on your feet
- Stay active
We know that as we age our muscle strength tends to decline. But you’re never too old to start a strength-based program and see results! Exercises that include balance work are ideal. And practicing these with your bifocal glasses is a must. Improved strength will also mean you will be able to walk taller and avoid the aged shuffle.
- Wear decent footwear
Simple but effective. There are many stylish walking shoes that care for your feet and maximise your stability. Choose shoes that have good grip and that don’t slip off. Avoid walking around the house in your socks or stockings.
- Check your eyes and ears
Eyes and ears are your early warning systems for potential danger. Your eyes should be checked every two years, and make sure you tell your doctor if you notice any hearing changes. It might be as simple as a build-up of ear wax.
- Keep your bones strong
A fall doesn’t have to mean a stress fracture. Keeping your bones strong can mean the difference between a bruise and losing your independence. Research tells us the best way to keep our bones strong (at any age) is weight bearing exercise. Eating calcium rich foods and getting plenty of Vitamin D from the sun also help.
- Make your home fall-proof
Having good lighting, a clutter free house and handrails in bathrooms and stairs are practical ways to avoiding falls at home. If you have a pet, make sure they wear a bell, so you know where they are while you move about.
It’s natural to feel concerned about having a fall, but this becomes a problem if this concern is stopping you from getting out and doing exercise, including walking. Attending a strength-based program like Living Longer Living Stronger™ will help you improve your strength and balance. These sessions are led by professionals who understand how to work with people just like you.
Beyond getting stronger and feeling more confident about being stable on your feet, the added bonus is that you might just make friends with others doing the same thing.
Looking for a place to exercise? Check out our list of Living Longer Living Stronger™ providers to find one near you, or ask your local gym to contact COTA Victoria so they can become a Living Longer Living Stronger™ provider.