Introduction Balance Awareness Week
Falls and fractures in the elderly are not just accidents; they are often preventable events that can have severe consequences on health, wellbeing, and independence.
With over 3 million people in the UK having osteoporosis, the risk of fragility fractures is alarmingly high. We delve into the importance of fall prevention, the role of DexaStrong’s prevention-first approach, and the broader context provided by the UK government on this pressing issue.
If you’re looking for more information about our BoneStrong and Balance Exercise Programmes, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The Stark Reality of Falls in the UK
- PAround a third of people aged 65 and over, and half of those aged 80 and over, fall at least once a year.
- PThe Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) reported that in 2017 to 2018, there were around 220,160 emergency hospital admissions related to falls among patients aged 65 and over.
- PIn 2022, the NHS estimated this to be around 255,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions.
- PThe total annual cost of fragility fractures to the UK is estimated at £4.4 billion, with hip fractures accounting for around £2 billion of this sum.
- PFalls in hospitals are the most commonly reported patient safety incident, with more than 240,000 reported in acute hospitals and mental health trusts in England and Wales.
- PIt is estimated that an osteoporotic fracture to the wrist, hip or spine occurs every three seconds
- PHip fractures cost the UK an estimated £2 billion a year, with most of the fractures requiring hospitalisation
- PAround 20% of cases prove fatal and permanently disables 50% of those affected; only 30% of patients fully recover.
Understanding the Causes of Falls Balance Awareness Week
Falls, particularly in the elderly, are often not mere accidents but the culmination of various risk factors coming into play. Understanding these factors is crucial for effective prevention. Here’s a deeper look into the multifaceted causes of falls:
- Muscle Weakness: As we age, muscle mass and strength can decrease, especially without regular exercise. This decline can affect an individual’s ability to maintain balance or recover from a misstep, increasing the risk of a fall.
- Poor Balance: Balance is a complex function that involves coordination between the visual, vestibular (inner ear), and proprioceptive (sensory receptors) systems. Any disruption in these systems, whether due to age, illness, or medication, can lead to instability.
- Visual Impairment: Vision plays a crucial role in assessing one’s environment. Age-related vision problems like cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration can distort or limit visual fields, making trip hazards harder to spot.
- Polypharmacy and Medication Side Effects: Taking multiple medications or certain types of drugs, such as sedatives, antipsychotics, or even some over-the-counter medications, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or balance issues, all of which increase fall risk.
- Environmental Hazards: Common household items and setups can be potential trip hazards. Loose rugs, cluttered floors, poor lighting, and even wet or polished surfaces can lead to slips and falls.
- Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or even infections, can affect mobility, balance, or cognitive function. For instance, a urinary tract infection in older adults can sometimes lead to unexplained falls due to sudden confusion or dizziness.
- Cognitive Impairments: Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can affect an individual’s judgment or spatial awareness, making them more prone to falls.
The NHS has highlighted that the risk of falls increases with age, and the consequences can range from minor injuries to severe fractures and long-term health issues.
The below graph shows that in 2022, 44 out of every 1,000 emergency admissions were related to Falls. The highest of the tracked tracked urgent care sensitive conditions. Source: Nuffield Trust
The Link Between Falls and Osteoporosis Balance Awareness Week
The intricate relationship between falls and osteoporosis is a pressing concern for older adults.
Osteoporosis, characterised by reduced bone density, makes bones more fragile and prone to fractures.
Even minor falls can lead to significant injuries, especially in common fracture sites like the hip, wrist, and spine.
In fact, over 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis, placing them at a heightened risk of fragility fractures. Such fractures, particularly hip fractures, can have severe consequences, often necessitating surgery and leading to long-term disability.
The NHS reports that hip fractures alone account for 1.8 million hospital bed days and £1.1 billion in hospital costs annually.
Moreover, osteoporosis can lead to postural changes, such as a stooped or hunched posture known as kyphosis. This altered posture can shift an individual’s centre of gravity, increasing their susceptibility to falls.
The fear of falling, especially after experiencing a fall, can further reduce physical activity, accelerating bone loss and muscle weakness. This creates a vicious cycle where reduced bone density increases the risk of falls, and falls, in turn, exacerbate osteoporosis.
Addressing both falls and osteoporosis in a holistic manner is crucial.
By integrating fall prevention measures, like strength and balance exercises, with osteoporosis treatments, we can significantly enhance the safety and quality of life for older individuals.
DexaStrong's Innovative Approach Balance Awareness Week
At DexaStrong, we recognise the critical role of strength and balance exercises in preventing falls.
Our Power Plate WBV exercise machines are designed to improve balance and strength, especially beneficial for those at risk of osteoporosis.
By simulating various balance-challenging scenarios, they train the body to respond effectively, enhancing stability and reducing the risk of falls.
Practical Tips for Fall Prevention Balance Awareness Week
- Stay Active: Engage in strength and balance exercises regularly.
- Home Safety: Use non-slip mats, remove obstacles, ensure proper lighting, and avoid loose, trailing clothes.
- Diet and Hydration: Ensure a well-balanced diet with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Stay well hydrated, especially in hot weather.
- Medication Review: Some medications can cause unsteadiness. Regularly consult with your doctor and get medications reviewed.
Conclusion Balance Awareness Week
The prevention of falls is not just about avoiding accidents; it’s about ensuring the long-term health and wellbeing of individuals, especially those at risk of osteoporosis.
At DexaStrong, we are committed to providing solutions that make a tangible difference in this fight.
By understanding the risks, taking preventive measures, and utilising innovative solutions like our Power Plate WBV machines, we can significantly reduce the risk of falls and their associated consequences.
For more information contact us today.