Nutrition and hydration are related to numerous risk factors for falls and they have been shown to be a determining factor in severity of injury and recovery time following a fall.
Prevention of falls involves optimisation of muscle and bone health through appropriate dietary measures.
Dietary measures to help with reducing falls risk include:
- maintaining a healthy weight;
- including a protein source with each meal for maintaining muscle strength. (Protein sources include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds);
- including 3 portions of calcium containing foods and drinks daily for bone and muscle health. (Calcium sources include: dairy products, calcium fortified plant alternatives including soya, calcium fortified cereals, fish with bones and dark green leafy vegetables);
- ensuring an adequate vitamin D intake by taking a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement in the Autumn and Winter months. Certain at risk groups will need to take a vitamin D supplement all year round. Vitamin D works with calcium for healthy bones and muscles;
- reducing dehydration risk by drinking 1.6 to 2 litres daily from a range of fluid sources including water, milk, fruit juice, soft drinks, tea and coffee;
- limiting alcohol to the government recommendation of 14 units per week. Excessive alcohol can cause bone weakening and lead to unsteadiness;
- controlling blood glucose levels if known to have diabetes.
Dietitians have a key role in supporting individuals with their nutritional care and working in collaboration with the falls multidisciplinary team. This can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, doctors, nurses and care home colleagues.
As part of the falls project, we are currently scoping the dietetic service to the falls pathways in Sheffield and identifying what resources, training and support is needed to shape the nutrition and hydration care provided to these patients and staff.