B8 - Reducing the Risk of Falls

Falls are a leading reason for Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) claims by those aged 65 years and older. People over the age of 65 have a one in three chance of falling. People aged 80 or older have a one in two chance of falling.

The likelihood that you will sustain an injury as a result of a fall also increases as you age. A hip fracture from a fall is one-and-a-half-times more likely for an 80-year-old than a 65-year old. In one out of every three cases where a fall results in a hip fracture in an older person, the outcome is that the older person moves into residential care.

Even if a fall does not result in injury, it can affect your quality of life because it can make you less confident about engaging in day-to-day activities. It's a vicious cycle: reducing your level of activity reduces your muscle strength and ability to balance, which increases your risk of falling - unless you take preventative measures.

Talking to someone about your fall can enable them to help you work out ways to prevent future falls.

However, even if you do have a fall, it's important to realise that falls are not unusual for older people, and there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of a fall, and reduce the risk of injury should a fall occur. Experts recommend that families do not stop their older relations living independently or engaging in activities because of a fear they might fall and hurt themselves.

Supports available after a fall

There are various supports that can help you improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling. If you have already made an ACC claim because you've had a fall, your ACC case manager will help you work on ways to prevent any further falls in your home.

Exercises that improve your strength and balance can help you reduce your chance of having a fall. You should try to do strength and balance exercises at least once a week, for at least 45 minutes each time. Some useful exercise programmes for older people are listed below:

Ask around to find out about any group programmes available in your community. You will probably also be encouraged to practise the exercises you learn between classes.

Pros

Cons

What do I need in order to take this option?

Age-appropriate strength and balance exercise programmes or services need to be available in your area.

Could this option limit my future choices?

No, it may help you to stay living independently in your own home.

For more information