Research has provided strong evidence that regular exercise by older Australians can help improve your life in many ways, including reducing your risk of falling.*
This is something that Banksia Lodge Physiotherapist Rachel O’Loughlin feels passionate about. “Exercise is useful for pain management, muscle strengthening, social well-being, cardiovascular and respiratory health, all of which contribute to an improved quality of life and assist with preventing falls” she said.
Rachel is based at Banksia Lodge every Friday, where she provides Physiotherapy services to the residents.
At Banksia Lodge a number of residents live with chronic health issues which may include conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes, Heart disease, Lung disease, Osteoporosis, Dementia, Depression or the after effects of stroke. All of these can lead to decreased mobility, muscle weakness, and/ or decreased balance, and these effects all put the person at a higher risk for falls.
Following individual assessment, Rachel usually recommends one or more of the following treatment strategies:
- Strength and conditioning exercises
- Falls and balance training
- Mobility or transfer aids
- Hydrotherapy in Banksia’s own hydrotherapy pool
All of these strategies are aimed at keeping each person moving as freely as possible, as well as preventing deterioration or restoring function and activity levels – which can lead to a reduction in falls.
Group Exercise Programs
Exercise provides benefits above and beyond muscle strengthening and mounting evidence shows that exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage chronic pain. Inclusion in group exercise programs allows residents to maintain or improve their function and reduce their focus on pain. Part of this approach is the recognition that gentle activity is more effective than rest or other passive treatments.
At Banksia Lodge there are a number of regular group exercise classes through the week which are conducted by activity staff, who also consult with Rachel when developing their program content.
Rachel has also developed a ‘’Moves to Music” group class which includes carefully selected exercises which aim to improve lower leg strength, hand coordination, balance and ease of movement. While this program has been on a hiatus recently, she hopes to reintroduce it in the new year. Residents commence seated while exercising and progress to practicing how to safely stand up from sitting, while enjoying music and learning some dance moves. One thing that Rachel was delighted to notice is that some of the residents who live with dementia are significantly calmer when exercising to music. Rachel’s own love of dance has seen her develop this program over a number of years while also conducting research in this field.
Top Tips for Preventing Falls
Prevention of falls is important to all at Banksia Lodge, and we’ve compiled a few top tips to help older people avoid falling.
- Exercise every day, to build strength and improve your balance
- Use a sturdy walker with working brakes if you have trouble with balance
- Get your eyes checked, and upgrade your spectacles if needed
- Avoid slippery surfaces and use aids such as grab rails in the bathroom
- Take your time (don’t be in a hurry)
- Ensure your shoes are comfortable, supportive and have a non-slip sole
- Ask for assistance.
For further advice about how to reduce your risk of falling, follow this link to a helpful booklet. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/E23F5F7BF8F07264CA257BF0002043F5/$File/Don’t%20fall%20for%20it.pdf
*Source: L.D. Gillespie, M.C. Robertson, W.J. Gillespie, S.E. Lamb, S. Gates, R.G. Cumming, et al. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community
Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2012)
- . Kshytriya, S. et al (2015) Dance and Aging: A Critical review of Findings in Neuroscience American Journal of Dance Therapy 37.81
- . Raglio et al (2006) “The effectiveness of the music therapy treatment for patients with moderate-severe dementia” Giornale di Gerontologia 54 (3) 164-169
- Hewitt, J, (et al) Challenging Physiotherapy in Residential Aged Care: Moving away from Pain Management to Exercise, Falls Prevention and re-Ablement (as presented at 2017 APA conference Sydney)