Age UK has reported a fall is the number one reason many older people are admitted to hospital. Although some of the time, the fall doesn’t lead to a serious injury, it can leave someone feeling distressed and anxious.
There are many reasons why someone falls. This could be due to health reasons, affecting someone’s balance, muscles and vision, or external reasons that can be prevented, such as wet floors, unsecured rugs or carpets, the lighting in a room or accessibility within the bathroom. A lot of the falls that affect older people can easily be prevented, saving a trip to A&E and giving peace of mind.
Many falls are due to a lack of coordination or dizziness. Continuing to be active and regularly exercising can help improve muscle strength and balance. NHS Choices have suggestions on different exercises older people can undertake at home; click here to find out more. Fitness classes will also be available in your local area, held at community centres, village halls or leisure centres with exercises suitable for the older generation. A healthy lifestyle can also support bone health, another reason why some older people fall. Bones become fragile over time, sometimes leading to Osteoporosis. For someone with weak bones, a fall could lead to fractures or even a compound fracture. Calcium-rich foods and plenty of Vitamin D can help support bone health, keeping them strong and healthy.
Check any medication you or a loved one may be taking, as these may affect your eye-sight and balance. Your GP or a pharmacist can advise you on the side effects of medications such as dizziness, nausea or feeling faint. Having regular sight tests can help spot any eye conditions that affect balance and coordination; conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts can increase with age, so it is important for these to be detected early. Similarly, with hearing problems, a build-up of ear-wax or an ear infection can affect balance. If you think you or a family member is having issues with their eyesight or hearing, book an appointment with a GP.
Sometimes, a fall can be due to footwear. Ill-fitting slip-on shoes or worn-out slippers can lead to the loss of balance, especially when walking up and down the stairs. If someone is having foot issues, a chat with a GP, nurse or podiatrist can advise on the best footwear that is both sturdy and comfortable. It is suggested to not walk about the home in bare feet, socks or tights, as this can lead to slips, trips and falls; wear sensible shoes or well-fitted slippers with good grip indoors.
So, what can we do to prevent unnecessary falls? There are a few simple changes that can be made within the home. Use non-slip mats and rugs within the home, especially in the bathroom where the floor can easily become wet. There should be adequate lighting within each room including staircases, and all clutter should be removed from the floor, such as shoes, books, bags, which can easily lead to someone tripping over.
Healthcare professionals can perform risk assessments within the home, and pinpoint anything that could become a hazard. At Heritage Healthcare, it’s our priority for our clients to continue living independently within their own home and staying safe. Our care team are on hand to stop unnecessary falls from occurring. This could be mopping up spillages or tidying away cluttered items, organising the home to avoid stretching, climbing or bending to access items.
To find out more about how Heritage Healthcare can support you and your loved ones, please click here to be taken to our services page, or you can find your local care office.
You can also find further advice about preventing a fall from Age UK; click here to be taken to their website.