Remember this… “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ?
The oft-quoted line came from a television ad for a product that would make it easier for people living alone to call for help in the event of a fall.
Many people can relate to the fear of falling – particularly older adults coping with mobility issues and other age-related challenges. Injuries that occur as a result of slips and falls are common and the consequences can be severe: long-term pain, functional impairment, hospitalization and in the worst cases, death (1).
Preventing injuries from falls is important in helping older adults experience a high quality of life, including independent living, engaging in healthy activities and enjoying social and recreational pursuits. One promising preventative measure involves exercise programs targeted to seniors.
What the research tells us
A recent systematic review analyzed the results of 17 randomized controlled trials involving more than 4,300 older adults (average age of 77 years) to determine whether fall prevention exercise programs help to reduce different types of fall related injuries (2). Specific categories of injuries included those resulting in broken bones and those requiring hospitalization.
The review found there was strong evidence that fall prevention exercise programs – delivered either in a group setting or at home – can help prevent falls, and injuries resulting from falls, in older adults living independently. While programs included several types of beneficial exercises such as strength and resistance training, exercises to improve balance were deemed the most effective in preventing falls (3;4;5;6).
Many seniors look forward to retirement and the chance to do things they couldn’t when they were working and raising a family. But the fear of falling and sustaining a serious injury may hold them back. Well-designed exercise programs may be the key to ensuring older adults have the confidence and the ability to live active, healthy lives and pursue those dreams!