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As we get older, keeping active can help you remain independent for as long as possible. Good strength and balance keep you from slowing down, so that you can keep living the life you want.
Having a fall might be the last thing on your mind at the moment, but now is the time to take action so that you can keep living the life you want.
Every year one-third of people aged 65 and above fall over. Hip fracture is a common injury that comes from a fall, and half of those who fracture their hip never return to being as active as they were before the fall. Unfortunately, falls can mean the end of independence for some older people.
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to avoid a fall in later life. For example:
The benefits of keeping active as we age are huge. Physical activity is good for your heart, can help you maintain a healthy weight and lowers your risk of getting serious conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers and having a stroke.
Exercise is also good for your muscles and bones. And healthy, strong muscles and bones are crucial if you are to stay independent as you age. You’re more likely to fall if your muscles or bones are weaker. Weaker bones are more likely to break or fracture if you do fall.
But physical activity doesn’t have to be at the gym or the running track, far from it. Anything that gets you moving, raises your heart rate and keeps it raised, counts. You could try:
If you haven’t done any exercise for a while, or if you have an existing health condition, talk to your GP before starting anything new. Always start slowly, and build up gradually.
If you want to try classes, check that the instructor is trained and has experience in working with older people. See a video on fitness for older people.
Don’t avoid physical activity if you have already fallen, or are worried that you may fall. That will stop you from improving your strength and balance, and may make it more likely that you will fall in the future. Instead, talk to your GP about falls prevention services in your area: there may be special exercise classes you can attend, or someone may be able to visit you in your home (see below).
If you’re concerned that you may fall, or if you’ve fallen already, talk to your GP about falls prevention services in your area.
Your GP may be able to refer you to a clinic, where you will have one-to-one time with a specialist falls prevention nurse to discuss your concerns.
The falls prevention nurse may:
The risk of you falling in the future will be assessed, and you’ll be given advice on how to improve your strength and balance and stay on your feet.
This might include a programme of exercises that you can do on your own. Or you may be referred to an exercise class where you’ll be given exercises that are right for you.
If appropriate, you may be offered a scan of your bone density that will help to spot any early signs of osteoporosis.
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