It’s estimated that more than 250,000 people aged 65 and over are hospitalised due to a fall each year. It’s also been reported that those living in care homes are three times more likely to fall than those living in their own homes, which tend to be more serious.
That said, if you have an elderly relative you help care for, or are concerned about, knowing what causes falls and how to prevent them is always important. Below, you’ll find all the information you need to know regarding falls and fall prevention.
Why falls happen
Falls aren’t only restricted to the elderly. However, the severity of a fall can be more severe for those who are older. The reasons falls happen are vast and wide, some of which we’ve highlighted below.
Issues can include:
- Impaired musculoskeletal function
- Gait abnormality
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood pressure fluctuation
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Neurologic conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Urinary and bladder dysfunction
- Vision or hearing loss
- Cancer that affects the bones
- Side effects of medications
- Personal habits like drinking alcohol
From inside the home to outside, several environmental factors that could cause someone to experience a fall are:
- Home hazards such as too much clutter, loose rugs or poor lighting
- Not having home helpers like handrails fitted
- Clothing, such as ill-fitting garments or risky footwear like high heels
- Outside issues such as the weather resulting in icy pathways
How to prevent falls
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent a loved one from having a fall, you can take precautions to help reduce the risk.
It’s worth noting that personalised tailoring is better, as no person is the same. Therefore, we’d suggest taking all of the below on board and applying it as you see fit.
If your loved one is taking medication on a long-term basis, you must get this checked by their GP at least once a year to ensure it’s still right for them. This is even more important if they’re taking four or more different medicines a day.
Poor vision can lead to an imbalance, or not being able to see what lies ahead, resulting in falling.Therefore, it’s important to ensure your loved one has regular eye tests to see if they need glasses, or if the ones they’re wearing are the right prescription.
Strength and balance training
As we age it’s important to keep active, as physical activity can help when it comes to preventing a fall. Strength and balance exercises are a great way to do this, as they’ll help to keep the body strong and potentially keep falls at bay.
Many community centres and gyms host classes, while walking, dancing and Tai Chi have been known to be helpful in this area.
If you’re worried that someone close to you is becoming frail and balance is a problem, or if they’ve already experienced a fall and you’re worried about another happening, there are items you can buy.
Helping to kit out their home, items like non-slip mats and rugs are always useful, while handrails on both sides of the stairs, in the shower or bath or a raised toilet seat or plastic seat for the shower, are also helpful. You’ll find a variety of other anti-fall products, often used within care homes, here. With falls being prevelant with dementia residents in carehomes, one particular product that is very useful is the Silent Minder Anti-wandering alarm. This device emits an infared beam around the patients bed and alerts staff when the beam is broken without causing panic for the resident.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that often get overlooked and changing the lightbulbs in your loved one’s home could help. By replacing bulbs with brighter options or moving lamps to areas that aren’t as well lit, you’ll create more light to allow them to see.
You could even implement smart bulbs through voice-activated items, such as Amazon’s Alexa, allowing a loved one to turn lights on and off without having to go to the switch.
Avoiding or reducing alcohol intake will help too as it’s known to lead to a loss of coordination, which can be dangerous if someone already has trouble when standing up.
If you need any further help or advice when it comes to fall prevention, or how items work, please get in touch on 01204 895410 and a member of our staff will be more than happy to help you.