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Falls Risks in Older Adults

Author(s)
Caroline Broadway
Jenna O'Neill

Falls are affecting a significant amount of older Australians, with 1/3 being over the age of 65. Falls can affect an individual’s mobility, quality of life and can also result in disability. In older adults, falls make up 14% of emergency admissions and are the number one cause of injury-related deaths. After a hip fracture, 20% people die within the first year, 40% do not return to independent walking and 60% need long-term care.

Falls can occur due to several reasons such as; loss of balance, reduced muscle strength, poor walking patterns, and/or increased fear of falling. All of these reasons are modifiable through exercise.

Exercise has shown to decrease the risk and rate of falling in older adults by 17% to 34%. Specifically, exercise programs that focus on challenging balance have been the most effective in falls prevention. Strength training has also been shown to be successful in older adults due to increases in muscle mass, power and strength. After the age of 40, muscular strength starts to decline and decreased leg strength is a major risk factor for falls. Therefore, a supervised exercise program including a combination of strength and balance training is recommended for the prevention of falls.

General Recommendations for Older Adults

1. Do moderate exercise for 30 mins a day, 5 days a week

2. Strength Training, 2-3 days a week. Choosing 8-10 exercises at 10-15 repetitions

3. Balance Training: Heel to toe walking, 30 second single leg standing, Tandem Stance.

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