When it comes to understanding physical health and the changes in our body as we age, falls prevention becomes an increasing topic of concern for older adults and their families.
If you have a condition like a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, this increases your falls risk even more so.
However, with the aid of fall detection devices and health professionals who specialise in falls treatment and ongoing care, causes and prevention of falls can be easier to manage as you age.
Fall Detection in MePACS Personal Alarms
Personal alarms that can help older adults signal for help in the event of a fall are essential in the home and community.
That’s why our MePACS mobile personal alarm, with GPS technology and two-way communication, now has in-built technology to detect a fall, with an automatic alert sent to the MePACS 24/7 emergency response service.
The MePACS Mobile is a simple and effective personal alarm that is designed to keep you safe when you are out shopping, walking, meeting friends or even on holiday in Australia. Giving you and your family peace of mind that help is only the press of one button away, home and away.
It’s the same guaranteed 24/7 service from the MePACS trained professionals.
You raise the alert and we’ll respond via the mobile alarm within 2 minutes. We will contact you via the alarm to understand the situation and then organise the right help to you quickly.
This standalone personal alarm can significantly reduce the time it takes for help to arrive, with trained professionals always available to assess the situation and alleviate the burden of calling for family or an ambulance from your shoulders.
What causes falls in older adults?
Associate Professor Michele Callisaya, a researcher and physiotherapist at Peninsula Health, has worked with many patients who have suffered a fall in her career and says a combination of factors can increase the risk of falls for older adults.
“Not all falls will cause an injury for older adults but if they do, then that can be quite detrimental. Older adults are more likely to fracture their hip, wrist or even get a black eye when they fall, which may result in a hospital stay for treatment and rehabilitation. Developing a fear of falling or becoming anxious about going out or doing normal tasks on their own is also common even when there is no injury. Restricting activities can then result in further deconditioning.”
Older adults may be prone to falls due to an extensive list of medical conditions and resulting impairments.
“The most common factors that contribute to falls in older adults will be slips and trips, poor mobility, low muscular strength and problems with balance. Poor vision can lead to a high falls risk too, as macular degeneration or wearing bifocal glasses can affect depth perception or lead to misjudging a step. A decline in thinking abilities can lead to misjudgement of risk and delayed reaction times.”
Conditions like diabetes and arthritis can also affect sensation, strength, balance and coordination, while heart conditions, low blood pressure and some sedative medications can likewise cause disorientation or a feeling of dizziness.
“The important thing is that physiotherapists like myself, who specialise in exercises for older adults who have suffered a fall, can help regain confidence, balance and strength to assist in recovery and getting back to normal activities” says Callisaya.
“But often it will be a multidisciplinary approach with a team of health professionals to work out the causes of falls and how we can deliver the most appropriate treatment.”
How to reduce the cause of falls for older adults in the home
Physiotherapists work closely with occupational therapists and geriatricians to understand the complexity of factors that can cause falls for older adults and how to reduce them with appropriate treatment, safety measures and care in the home.
“It’s important to combine exercises with a professional assessment of the person’s home and how we can reduce environmental risk factors.”
Many older adults are still in the house they raised their families in, but sometimes they don’t have the right safety measures to help them live there safely and for as long as they can.
“Uneven and slippery surfaces are common risks around the kitchen and bathroom that are a major issue, as are loose rugs where catching your foot can lead to a fall,” says Callisaya.
“But home hazards can be reduced with the advice of an occupational therapist. They may recommend a rail to hold onto down the stairs or in the shower, securing mats to the floor so they don’t move, and installing brighter lighting down a hallway so you can see better at night.”
While Michele is a specialist in physiotherapy treatment for older people, she advises that balance can start to decline in our 40s and 50s. Starting balance exercises early can pave the way for a safer and more active lifestyle in the future. You can make an appointment directly with a physiotherapist or your doctor can refer you.