April Falls

Falls amongst older people

Approximately 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will experience a fall in any one year. Of these, 4% end up in hospital and 1% suffer hip fractures. Only half of those over 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again. The consequences of falling can be devastating. Often a fall leads to fear of falling again, which can stop people doing the things they used to do. This can lead to isolation and depression as well as loss of function – which increases the risk of future falls.

As part of the natural aging process, often our clients don’t realise that their risk of falling has increased. Regular check-ups at the doctor may help identify some of these but essentially the main factors that influence falls are:

  • Poor leg strength and impaired balance
  • Side effects of medications – eg dizziness and drowsiness
  • Eyesight problems
  • Problems with cognition
  • Continence problems – causing people to rush to the toilet
  • Other medical conditions

 

Falls amongst people with intellectual disabilities

The risk of falling for people with intellectual disabilities is three times higher than the general population. Some notable causes might be:

  • “Culprit” Medication – eg anti-epileptic and psychotropic drugs have been found to be independent risk factors for falls. Additionally, any medication that causes drowsiness and/or dizziness
  • Epilepsy – the frequency of seizures has been associated with the risk of falling
  • Behavioural Issues – movement impulsiveness, distractibility and hyperactivity are strongly linked with falls

 

Falls prevention around the home

With half of all falls happening in the home, we are in a position of control over the risk factors and it is important that we view every fall as avoidable. Here are some simple home safety:

 

Removing Hazards in the Home
General Living

  • De-clutter and remove furniture/items you don’t need
  • Downsize larger pieces to create more clear space
  • Tuck electrical cords under furniture or tape down close to a wall

Lighting

  • Use area-lamps to target the areas your ceiling lamps don’t reach
  • Increase the wattage of your lights
  • Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs

Rugs

  • Anchor rugs down with anti-slip mats
  • Replace any rugs that are frayed at the edges, rolled at the corners or wrinkled or lumpy in the middle

Footwear

  • Encourage well-fitting, non-slip footwear
  • Use non slip socks

Bathroom

  • Use a bathmat on the floor and a non-slip mat in the shower or bath
  • Install well-placed hand rails
  • Use a bath-seat and handheld shower if needed

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