Falls are a common occurrence in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Well-being falls are the number one cause of hospitalisation due to injury, with 42% of injury related hospitalisations being as a result of a fall.1 This is a frightening statistic when you further consider that falls are also attributable to the leading injury related cause of death, accounting for 40% of deaths within Australia.1
Now even though this figure does take into account traumatic falls such as those sustained ice skating, falls from a ladder and falling due to being pushed by someone else, 31% of all falls that lead to hospitalisation are actually on a flat surface.1 If we look at these statistics further, a majority of falls are seen in an older population with 58% of hospitalisations due to falls in 2020-2021 seen in those over the age of 65 and affected females more than males.1
But not everyone over the age of 65 is guaranteed to have a fall, there are a number of risk factors that make somebody more likely fall, which include:
As we get older, there are normal cognitive, physical, and sensory changes that occur. This can lead to problems with weakness in both your upper and lower body as your muscles age, changes in your balance and walking speed, along with changes in memory and vision. These can all lead to a fall.
The type of environment that you live and spend time in can put you at risk of falling. Uneven surfaces, steps and stairs can all increase your risk of falling along with slippery surfaces.
Medical and lifestyle factors
Using multiple medications is a risk factor for falling. Although medications are incredibly important to treat any medical conditions you may have, having greater than 5 medications at any time increases your risk of falling due to the side effects and interactions these medications may have. Lifestyle factors such as drinking alcohol can also increase your risk of falling due to the effects of alcohol.
These are only a few of the risk factors but as you can see some of these risk factors cannot be changed, you can’t change your age or change the medical conditions you have been diagnosed with. So if falls can be such a big issue as you get older, what can you do to help reduce your risk of falling and reduce your risk of hospitalisation?
One of the main ways which helps reduce the risk of falling is exercise. Exercise is beneficial as it can help improve your balance and the strength in your arms and legs to help combat the effects of age on our bodies. Furthermore, doing exercises and having better strength and balance can help with negotiating tricker environments with uneven surfaces and steps. Exercise can include walking more, doing tai chi or even Pilates to help improve your balance and strength.
If you need help with exercising to reduce your risk of falls, come in and see one of our Physiotherapists here at Bend + Mend in the Sydney CBD.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls