IMPORTANCE OF MINIMISING FALLS
Having a fall, no matter how big or small, can have a major impact on an older person’s quality of life. Apart from the pain and discomfort, it can affect the person’s ability to take care of themselves and result in reduced physical and social activities. A simple fear of falling can limit activity and exercise so it’s important to ensure that we do everything we can to minimise the potential.
Falls can be devastating to the affected individual but are also expensive to manage. In particular, when associated with a fracture, they carry a high morbidity and mortality rate. The consequence of falls and the elderly can also have significant economic consequences. Current estimates are that falls cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year.
What causes a fall?
The natural ageing process means that older people have an increased risk of having a fall. In the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75.
There are a number of physical reasons why older people are more likely to have a fall:
- balance problems and muscle weakness
- poor vision
- a long-term health condition, such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure (hypotension), which can lead to dizziness and a brief loss of consciousness
However, in more practical terms, there are many things that could cause someone to trip and injure themselves in and around the home, for example:
- a wet or recently polished floor, such as in the bathroom
- dim lighting in a room
- rugs or carpets that are not properly secured
- over reaching for something
- moving too quickly to answer a phone or someone at the door
- rushing to get to the toilet during the day or at night
So what can be done to reduce falls?
- look around the home for and assess if there are any trip hazards such as loose rugs or staircases without railings
- use high-wattage light bulbs
- don’t wear loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
- wear well-fitting shoes that deliver good support and make sure laces are tied properly
- if dizziness is becoming a problem and you are taking medication, speak to your healthcare professional – dizziness can be a side effect of medication
- have your vision checked annually as vision problems can also contribute to giddiness and poor vision make falls more likely
- improve you balance to lessen the chances of a fall. Exercise is beneficial to the body and mind in many different ways and does not have to be high impact to be beneficial
- remember that old saying ‘Use it or lose it!’ Keeping both the mind and body supple is key to maintaining independence. Balance training is not just for the currently mobile. Exercise plans can be tailored to suit those whose who want to improve balance as well as those who don’t want to lose it.
Otus Live-in Care has a register of over 250 experienced live-in carers who can look after every level of care from companionship to home from hospital recovery, right through to end of life care. We are always happy to offer advice, without obligation. Call the Otus Live-in Care team on 01403 710119.