Reducing the risk of falling
01 October 2012
To coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons (Monday 1 October), health partners in Ceredigion are launching a new website that aims to raise awareness of the preventative actions older people can take to reduce the chances of falling and avoiding harm.
The partners include Aberystwyth University, Hywel Dda Health Board, Age Cymru Ceredigion, Public Health Wales, Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Services, Ceredigion Care and Repair and Ceredigion County Council.
The website, Ceredigion Strategic Falls Group, has been designed to inform people of simple interventions an individual can take which could make a big difference in preventing them from falling.
Things to consider include exercising to maintain strength, regular eye and hearing tests as well as wearing supportive footwear which can all be found on the website: http://www.aber.ac.uk/falls/
Dr Joanne Hudson, Head of the Department of Sport & Exercise Science at Aberystwyth University, explains, “Falls have serious physical and psychological consequences. As well as bruises, fractures, and in some cases death, a fall can reduce independence and destroy a person’s confidence.
“Exercising or being physically active helps maintain cardiovascular and muscular health, reduces the likelihood of mental illnesses such as depression and makes you less likely to require hospital treatment. Physical activity can also reduce the rate of cognitive decay, improve memory, assist with sleep patterns, and maintain positive mood states.”
Around 3.4 million people over 65 suffer a fall each year; Age UK estimates that with the right action up to half of these falls could be prevented.
Janet Knill, Hywel Dda Health Board’s Locality Service Planning Co-ordinator, said, “The group held its first conference and networking event this year which was a real success. The site includes video recordings of the speakers and presentations which we hope will be of interest to people.”
Aberystwyth University is currently undertaking research, funded by the Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee and a European Social Fund Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship, which aims to help consultants at Bronglais Hospital identify older adults at risk of falling.
Researchers are monitoring changes in muscle mass, balance, strength and psychological quality of life of older people and have found that with as little as six weeks of exercise, it is possible to see improvements in mental health and physiological well-being.
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Dr Joanne Hudson
Department of Sport & Exercise Science