Who is most at risk of falling?
Physical changes to our bodies, coupled with underlying health conditions and sometimes even our medication can mean that as we get older, we’re at increased risk of falling. In fact, falls prevention is an important issue as falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly and account for 87% of all fractures in the elderly.
Older people are more likely to have a fall because they may have:
- Poor vision
- Poor balance
- Muscle weakness
- Long term health conditions (such as heart disease, low blood pressure or dementia)
Interestingly, it is not necessarily the frail elderly who are most at risk of falling. Vigorous older persons living with more home hazards (such as loose rugs, dimly lit rooms or shower trays without slip matting) are more likely to fall than frail older persons with home hazards!
Falls are also a common cause of minor injury in pregnant women, but the truth is everyone is at risk of falls (how many times have you tripped rushing around at home, caught your foot on a rug or slipped over on a patch of ice?)
What to do if you have a fall
If you are hurt:
- If you are hurt but able to move, getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.
- Keep calm, if there is someone nearby ask them to call for an ambulance.
- If you are alone, try to get someone’s attention by calling out for help, banging on the wall or floor, or using your emergency call button.
- If possible, crawl to a telephone and dial 999 to request an ambulance.
- Try to keep yourself warm. If you can reach a blanket or towel, put this over yourself (particularly your legs and feet).
- Stay as comfortable as possible, try to change your position at least once every half an hour or so and wait for help to arrive.
If you are unhurt:
- If you are unhurt and can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side, then rest again to allow your blood pressure and body to adjust.
- Slowly get on to your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy piece of furniture (such as a bed or chair).
- Put your hands on each side of the piece of furniture and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep your other knee bent so your knee is on the floor.
- From this kneeling position, slowly get yourself up and turn to sit on the bed or chair.
Ten top tips for fall prevention
- Route planner: Think about the best route to your destination and don’t rush on the way there. Allow yourself some extra time to make your journey.
- Don’t rush: If your destination involves a trip outdoors, avoid rushing or taking shortcuts over an area where there is snow or ice. Walk slowly, and never run over icy ground.
- Centre of balance: Take small steps to keep your centre of balance beneath you.
- Risk reduction: If you are in the “at risk” category, minimise your trip hazards at home. This could mean installing handrails, removing loose rugs, and always keeping the stairs and hallway clear of objects such as books or shoes!)
- Shoes: Appropriate footwear is a must, indoors or outdoors. Flat footwear with rubber soles provides better grip and traction than leather soles or high heels. At home, avoid slip-on shoes such as mule slippers.
- Handrails: Use handrails where possible to support yourself.
- Resist your pockets: Don’t put your hands in your pocket- keep them both free for balance.
- Watch out for cars: If getting in and out the car, hold on to the vehicle for support.
- Carrying sensibly: Avoid carrying your children or lots of heavy shopping bags, particularly on stairs.
- Use floor mats: Wipe your shoes when entering a building to remove moisture on the soles of your shoes. This not only reduces your risk of slipping, but means others walking behind you are less likely to slip on a wet surface too!
Do you know someone who is at risk of a slip or fall this winter? If so, please do share this information with them. If you’ve had a fall and are in need of our assistance, you can call us on 01243 379693 or book your appointment online here and start your journey to a pain-free festive season!