9 top tips to prevent falling and first aid advice if we fall: More than 500,000 people aged 65 years and over attend accident and emergency departments every year as the result of accidents at home – the majority of these being falls. Frighteningly more than 3,500 people in England and Wales die every year following a fall and nearly a third of a million people need hospital treatment.
Many older people who suffer from falls never fully recover from either the physical or psychological impact of their injuries. Sadly, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75.
Although the fall itself often doesn’t cause a serious injury; if the casualty is unable to get up following their fall, they are more likely to suffer hypothermia and pressure sores. Most accidents in the elderly result from falls from stairs or steps with over 60 per cent of deaths resulting from accidents on stairs. Therefore, it is extremely important to take steps to prevent falls where possible.
How to prevent falls:
- Items should not be left on the stairs as it is too easy to trip over them.
- Replace damaged carpet and avoid repetitive carpet patterns that can affect perception and make it more difficult to see individual stairs.
- Ensure landings, stairs and hallways are well lit with two-way light switches.
- Ensure banisters are secure and sturdy, two easy-grip handrails gives more stability.
General help and advice to prevent injuries:
- As we get older we are more prone to lose our balance through sudden movements, e.g. getting out of bed or a chair too quickly – this is often more apparent if taking medication for high blood pressure. Getting up very slowly and bringing the head up last can reduce the dizzy effects of postural hypotension.
- Floors and surfaces should be as clear as possible as worn rugs, slippery floors and paths, uneven surfaces, trailing flexes, and items left lying around make falling far more likely.
- Pay attention to footwear – ill-fitting shoes that have lost their grip, or old slippers often precipitate a fall.
- Grab rails and places to sit down in the bathroom and kitchen can be helpful if suddenly feeling dizzy.
- Floors should be cleaned carefully to ensure that they are not slippery and any spillages should be immediately and thoroughly removed.
Having a fall could be an indicator of a treatable underlying health problem. It is sensible to make an appointment with the GP for a check up and possibly ask for a referral to an NHS Falls Clinic where they can further investigate and help instigate measures to prevent further falls. There are specific muscle strengthening exercise classes, physiotherapy and lots of advice and support.
Ensure you have a charged mobile phone with you at all times and consider installing a community alarm system to make it easier to quickly summon help if needed.
There is helpful technology available such as telecare technology that sends an alert to a relative, carer or call centre if you get up from a bed or chair and don’t return in a set time.
Talkhealth have great information on health and wellbeing and are running a special online clinic on pain management and arthritis this October – for more details visit http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/online_clinics