Balance awareness week 12-18th September Tabassum(Tabby) Kabeer Freelance Dietitian
LIVING LIFE WITHOUT BALANCE. Balance is something we take for granted but imagine if we lose it for a moment, by taking the wrong step, experience motion sickness, head spins from drinking too much alcohol. Over time our balance will return . However some of us suffer often symptoms of imbalance . For example symptoms associated with vestibular disorder which may come on gradually over time or suddenly with bouts of dizziness, vertigo and nausea and this can make life very difficult . Trying to sleep with a high pitched ringing or even focus when the world around is spinning . Everyday life and living can become really difficult.
Older people are more vulnerable and likely to fall especially if they are frail and ill.1 in 3 people over 65 suffer a fall and this can serious injury and even death . This can cost the NHS 2.3 billion a year .So prevention is important .
Causes of falls
Vestibular disorders of the inner ear
Weight loss with or without a low BMI
Poor nutrition and hydration
Low vitamin D levels
Reduced muscle mass and strength
Infections - chest /bladder/urinary tract
Low blood pressure
Low blood glucose
Poor foot wear or walking on uneven ground
Deterioration in eye sight
Falls can lead to broken bones ,injury, pain, distress ,loss of confidence and independence . All can contribute o muscle wasting and so the cycle repeats having an adverse impact on a person's quality of life .
As we age eating and drinking can become more difficult from ability to cook less, having difficulty using cutlery, chew or swallow or see .Taste and appetite can alter making food less pleasurable or palatable or as we age we may feel full earlier.
Having adequate protein and energy can help delay or treat the decline in muscle mass, strength and activity levels .
Studies have indicated having about 20-30g quality protein at each meal can provide our ageing bodies with muscle protein it requires . it has been particularly good after exercise .
If you have a small appetite and or eating problems small frequent meal and snacks with a focus on nutrient rich food s and fluids becomes important. Proper screening for malnutrition by a trained professional can help recognise the problem early in order to prevent the risk of falls. A dietitian can give advice to help meet your nutritional requirements and suggest ways such as fortifying food.
Vitamin D ,hydration and exercise should also be looked at to reduce likelihood of falls . Vitamin D levels should be checked regularly by your doctor and supplementation should be given to correct any low levels in order to reduce falls risk . The recommendation in UK is 10 micrograms/400internation units IU in the winter months and daily through out the year for those who have increased risks of falls . Hydration can help achieve healthy blood pressure and avoid weakness and dizziness which are some of the major causes of falls .
Good nutrition and hydration play a very important role in falls prevention especially as we age . The key is to have regular balanced meals that are nutrient dense and have healthy snacks in between to maintain a good appetite . Taking up regular exercise and ensuring protein intake at main meals to keep our muscles strong can help greatly along with doing some regular outdoor fun activity. Making sure safe foot wear to avoid any slips .
For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby kabeer