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Today we’re speaking about Falls.

How do you know if you are at a risk of falling?

This in particular is for people that are moving and standing and able to walk, being conscious that there are people living in our community that aren’t able to walk.

So I’m going to talk through a way of knowing how you might be at risk of falls or someone that you care about is, in particular for older adults, which is classified as over 65. And I know there’s probably many people that think tis age bracket should be reclassified, and it may well be over time because we’re all living longer.

I would say by the time I get to 65, I probably won’t want to be referred to as an older adult because I will be sprightly at that age, I would hope so anyway. So how do you know if you’re at a risk of falls?

There’s many ways. There’s lots of different types of assessments we use as health care professionals in particular Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. We use a range of different objective measures, so validated scientific tests and questions. But you can ask yourself two simple questions or somebody you care about as well.

2 Simple Questions to ask yourself

Have you fallen before? That’s a bit of a dead giveaway that you’re out of risk because you have already. And the research shows and confirms that if you have had a fall before, that is a very strong predictor of having another fall. Makes sense…

The other thing you can ask is: are you fearful of falling? That’s, once again, shown in the research of if you have a fear of falling, it’s a very strong predictor that you may fall. So those two questions if you answer yes, you need to do something about it, and something that you can do about it is see a Occupational Therapist or a Physiotherapist to put some falls prevention strategies in place.

The reasons people fall or their risks vary. And there’s many different types of things that can cause a fall from environmental risks all the way through to risks for yourself. You may have poor balance, poor strength, etcetera.

Five times sit to stand test

One other thing that you can do, however, is do a little test of your strength, and one of those is called the five times sit to stand. The name sort of gives it away: we time how long it takes to move from sitting to standing five times in a row. Most of the tests are done from around a 43 centimetre high chair, and that’s because for most people, it puts the hip and knee at a level, a parallel level. I’ll show you how to do the test.

You can try to self or ask a loved one to do so. Any time you’re doing that, just make sure someone’s operating or moving in a way that’s safe for them and you don’t increase their risk of falls by asking them to do something that they can’t. This test is done by not holding on, so hands across the chest, and I’m going to move all the way up into standing. Start counting,  1, 2, 3, 4, 5… etc. The time stops when you sit back down. How long should you take there? There’s different numbers for different age groups. Overall age groups, however, especially for older adults over 65, that cutoff score is 12 seconds without using your hands. If you’re taking longer than 12 seconds, that is a high likelihood of future falls. If you had to use your hands, that’s a high risk of falls.

What should you do?

Speak to your GP. Speak to your Occupational Therapist. Speak to your Physiotherapist, and start putting some strategies in place. Falls are a real flag, clinically, for future worsening health in other areas of your life. If you’re losing strength, losing balance, losing mobility, that’s going to impact other things that you can do.

Fortunately, there’s heaps we can do about it to help people improve their strength, improve their balance, improve their mobility, modify their environment and goes on and on. Eyesight, footwear, lots of different things that we can do. And we’re really passionate about doing it as health care professionals.

So ask those questions. Have you had a fall? Are you fearful of falling?

Do a little sit to stand test and then you’ll know, time to see someone about it.

Thanks so much. We’ll talk to you next time. See ya!