AT LEAST 6,000 elderly people die from falling every year, and most of these deaths occur at home.
Even if a fall does not kill, it often causes serious injuries or disability.
“When an elderly family member falls, it is not just the rest of the family but also the country that has to shoulder higher medical expenses,” Dr Anucha Setthasathien said earlier this week in his capacity as vice president of Road Safety Thailand.
The National Institute of Emergency Medicine hotline centre answered 100,000 calls of an elderly person falling last year, and 6,000 of them succumbed to their injuries.
The actual number of such falls might be higher, because not all cases are reported to the centre.
Speaking at the 13th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (Safety 2018), Anucha said falling was the second highest reason for death after road accidents.
More than 600,000 people are killed as a result of a fall across the globe.
In order to avoid accidents, Anucha said people should pay serious attention to keeping their homes safe, such as ensuring the toilet floor is not slippery and stairs have proper railings.
He also urged people to exercise regularly to maintain muscle strength and balance.
Izumi Kondo, a medical specialist at Japan’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Medicine, told the conference that Japan had tried to prevent falls by using technology and robots that helped the elderly balance themselves.
“People have cooperated with us on this,” he said.
Old Chinese technique
Duen Leilei, a specialist from China’s Bureau of Non-communicable Diseases, revealed that Chinese “Ba Duan Jin” stretching techniques helped people maintain their balance.
“We studied the Ba Duan Jin practice to see how falls can be prevented or at least minimised,” she said.
The study covered 1,500 people in China aged 55 and above, and findings showed that those practising Ba Duan Jin have a better balance and a lower risk of falling.
“Ba Duan Jin cuts down the chance of old people falling down,” Duen |said.
She added that people who have done Ba Duan Jin exercises for three months can maintain their balance twice as much as those who have never practised the stretches.
“Compared to those who have practised Ba Duan Jin for at least six months, the balance of non-practitioners is three times poorer,” she said.