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Dancing the falls away

26 November 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 21

Falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone. Injurious falls, including 70 000 hip fractures annually, are the leading cause of accident-related mortality in older people. After a fall, an older person has a 50% probability of having their mobility seriously impaired and a 10% probability of dying within a year. Falls destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence, with around 1 in 10 older people who fall becoming afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again (Charters, 2013).

A tailored exercise programme can reduce falls by as much as 54% (Charters, 2013). Have you ever danced with the people you are caring for? If so, why? If not, why not?

My background is in paediatric nursing; we often danced around, jiggling unsettled little ones or holding the hands of preschool children while dancing to Agadoo and The Locomotion, with more laughter than finesse. We were never taught to do it, nobody lectured us on the benefits of dance moves that involved pushing pineapples or shaking trees. We just intuitively knew it was a good thing. We took our paediatric dancing skills with us when we moved to our adult placements and received a mixed reception. I was fortunate that the first adult ward I worked on had a fabulous sister, who allowed us a fairly free rein and encouraged us to transfer our skills from children to adults. A friend and I were often placed on the same ward, with a bay of elderly women to care for. We had limited experience of caring for people who lived with dementia, so we just did what we thought was best; we sang familiar songs and waltzed to Edelweiss and did the Hokey-Cokey.

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