Preventing Falls and Fractures in Elderly
17% of our elderly population are prone to falls leading to fractures. There are many factors that increases the risk of falling and osteoporosis is one of those high on the list, together with weak muscles and poor balance. Once an elderly fall and sustains a fracture, recovery is not as simple as going for a surgery to reduce the fracture. There are a lot of factors that would aﬀect recovery. Even after surgery, there would be a lot of lifestyle adjustment, together with living environment changes that would need to happen.
Falls are generally due to accidents, which in most cases, are hard to prevent. However, there are some proactive steps that we can take to prevent fractures. We should encourage our elderlies to improve their bone health by having a balance diet and exercising to maintain their bone density. They can also lower their risk of falling by strengthening their muscles and improving their balance. Here are some tips that we can encourage our elderly to follow:
1. Weight Bearing Exercises
Taking calcium supplements alone will not help prevent osteoporosis. To prevent Osteoporosis, besides taking calcium supplements, we highly encourage you to engage in weight bearing exercises, at least 3
times a week, for about 30 to 45mins each time. It is also highly advisable to do the exercises in the presence of sunlight as the UV rays from the sun helps to activate the Vitamin D store in the skin to aid in the absorption of Calcium to slow down the process of osteoporosis.
Examples of weight bearing exercises are like brisk walking, Tai Chi / Qi Gong and even social exercises like Zumba and Line Dancing.
2. Stretch Regularly
It is very common for the elderly to complain of tightness in their hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles. The tightness might be due to overuse through the years without stretching or could also be weakness in these muscles. These simple stretches can be done to help alleviate the tightness in the muscles. Perform these stretches after walking or after any exercise routine. Hold each stretch for 15 secs and repeat it 4 times per leg.
3. Strengthen Your Muscles and Improve your Balance
Some common excuses that the elderly would give when we ask them to do some strengthening exercises are they will say it’s very troublesome or they do not want to go out of the house, etc.
We propose these simple strengthening exercises that they can try, in the comfort of their own home. Performing a simple sit- to-stand exercise or stepping up onto a step are simple exercises that elderly can try to do to improve the strength of their legs.
These 2 exercises are very simple exercises that everyone can and should do to improve their balance. Lack of balance is one of the main causes of falls thus trying these 2 exercises can help improve one’s balance and may prevent falls. Start oﬀ with the Tandem Standing and once that becomes easy, one can progress towards Single Leg Stand. You may prefer to use a chair for support initially until you get better with your balance.
Calvinfirst started his physiotherapy training at Nanyang Polytechnic, graduating in2003 with his Diploma in Physiotherapy. He later went to complete his degreewith The University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)in 2004 and proceeded to complete his Master of Manual Therapy from theUniversity of Western Australia (UWA) in 2006.
In his public service, he was awarded the Service Champion Award several times, as well as the Excellence Service Award (EXSA) (Silver) conferred by SPRING Singapore in 2006 when he seconded Alexandra Sports Medicine Centre and the outpatient physiotherapy department.
Calvin had experience working with both local and international athletes, recreational and elite across multiple sports as part of their Physiotherapy Team.
* Singapore National Under-18 Soccer Team
* Geylang United and Sengkang Marine youth development teams
* Cricket Club International Rugby 7s
* Rugby Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).
Through his years as a physiotherapist, Calvin had also served on the Singapore Physiotherapy Association Committee as the Co-Chairperson for Membership in 2014/15, hosted the World Confederation of Physical Therapist (WCPT) Congress 2015, Part-Time Lecturer in Nanyang Polytechnic’s Physiotherapy Program.