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How to prevent and avoid risks of falls

Falls Prevention Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of taking precautions to prevent falls amongst the elderly.

As people grow older, we see the impact that injuries from falls can have on older people, with painful issues that require medical attention and detrimental effects on health being common place. Issues caused by falls aren’t just physical – falls can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing and independence including a loss of confidence.

In 2014, NHS England reported 250,000 falls in hospitals across the country alone, with over 800 hip fractures and 600 other fractures being reported. Many older people who have mobility issues may assume that there is little that they can do to prevent falls. However, depending on the severity of the issue, taking small steps to ensure your balance is as good as it can be, and building on strength can help to minimise the risk of falling.

Exercises can be done to assist with mobility, but it is important that you consult with your GP before undertaking any kind of physical activity if you are unsure, as doing exercises incorrectly can do more harm than good. More information about exercises can be found on the AGE UK website.

It is also important to ensure that homes are kept tidy and obstruction free, as darkness combined with poor sight can lead to accidents. If you find yourself unable to see objects or hear clearly, it is important have your eyesight and hearing tested to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to avoid increased risk of falling.

A diet rich in calcium along with Omega 3 supplements can also assist in aiding mobility and help to strengthen bones. Consider therefore having more of these food items in your diet: dairy, eggs, oily fish and vegetables rich in iron such as kale, spinach and broccoli.

For people who suffer from osteoporosis, falls can be extremely painful and can severely impact the sufferer’s health and wellbeing in the long term. This disease causes bones to become weak, which means that falls which may otherwise have caused minor injuries can cause serious ailments that are not easily treatable.

If you suffer from a health issue that may impact on your ability to recover from a minor fall, it is worth taking extra preventative measures. For instance, you may wish to fit side rails to your bed or if you are taking medication that can cause dizziness or disorientation and you require help from having fallen out of bed before, it is worth considering investing in a bed occupancy sensor or movement sensors. These sensors can be integrated with telecare equipment, such as a wrist falls detector, and can alert the contact centre who can send you help if needed.

Falls can also be worrying for family members or loved ones, as they find themselves becoming anxious about vulnerable elderly relatives or people within their care whilst they are out completing necessary household chores or when they go to bed at night. Products such as lifeline units and falls detectors can give peace of mind for when they cannot be close by.

One such client who suffered regular falls who was helped by a telecare system was Jim. Worryingly, he was found by a neighbour unconscious prior to having a telecare system fitted, as he’d fallen in his home while alone. Fortunately, Jim did not sustain any major injuries, but concluded that since he had become progressively more unsteady on his feet in recent months, he should opt to have a lifeline unit with pendant alarm and keysafe fitted in case of any future incidents.

Other helpful devices include personal pendants and telecare units, which can be particularly useful if you or a loved one is fearful of being alone or often fall when getting out of bed at night time. It is also worth considering automatic lights and fall detectors for peace of mind – if you’re unsure which device would be best suited to your needs, contact our friendly team who can help you decide on a personalised set up that is suited to your needs.

If you are a healthcare professional, or you care for patients who regularly fall or whom you fear may be at a greater risk of falling, there are a number of training events taking place around the country to raise awareness and support prevention methods for falls. They include setting up and running an effective falls service in London on October 21st and falls prevention and management in older people in Manchester on December 6th.

To speak to a telecare expert and find out about the solutions available to assist with falls both in and out of the home, contact our friendly team today on 01323 644422 and take a look at our brochure for more information.

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