Last week, the NSW Government’s Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) kicked off the awareness program, “April Falls Day” on 4th April 2018. This year’s theme “Nutrition and Hydration Eating Well to Prevent Falls,” aimed to educate our elderly citizens, as well as their families and carers about the importance of properly-planned meals and constant hydration in seniors to prevent falls.
According to the CEC, malnutrition and dehydration make seniors at risk for falls when they feel weak and dizzy from hunger. Without a proper diet, people of any age, but especially the elderly will have decreased muscle mass and strength which can show up as shaky knees and hands that have trouble gripping.

The CEC also notes that those living with dementia may also have poor nutrition and hydration making them most prone to falls.

As such, it’s essential for the elderly and their carers to keep track of nutritional and fluid intake – undernourished and underweight individuals may find themselves at risk for a whole host of health issues including fractures, delayed wound healing, increased fatigue, a weakened immune system, and of course, muscle weakness leading to falls.

The elderly’s loved ones and carers must also realize that there are many reasons why their seniors might not be getting their full nutritional requirements, so it’s not simply a matter of preparing the right foods and always refilling their glass with water.

People with gum and teeth problems might not be able to chew, for instance, and may need to visit the dentist. Other times, a loss of appetite might be the issue so cooking the elderly’s favorite meals might get them to eat. Forgetfulness, gripping problems, and being distracted may also contribute to malnourishment; caregivers and family members should take heed of any underlying reasons as to why their patient might not be eating well and drinking enough water and help address it.

In addition to eating well, it’s been found that regular physical activity can do wonders for the elderly’s well-being, and that at least half an hour’s worth of balancing and leg muscle exercises daily contributes to preventing falls. The NSW government has a website about staying active, called Active and Healthy where seniors and all those interested can order a free printed copy of the “Staying Active and on your Feet” booklet which contains the benefits of exercising, including fall prevention!

Did you enjoy this article? If you’re a care provider with an elderly patient or client and want to learn more about helping prevent falls by heeding nutritional needs better, you might want to join the NSW Falls Prevention Network Forum to be held on 11th May, 2018, or check out the NSW Falls Prevention Network’s official website for more resources.