Facing up to falls
This RoSPA video highlights easy tips to prevent an elderly relative, friend, neighbour or even your gran from falling over at home
How to get up safely after a fall
This RoSPA video highlights easy tips to help older people get back on their feet after falling over at home
Helpful tips for older adults on improving their balance and strength in their own home to help them avoid falls
Facing up to Falls
Facing up to Falls, aims to provide families and older people with practical steps to avoid falls by highlighting key issues that lead to a tumble.
How to get up safely after a fall
The risk of falling in the home increases with age. A substantial number of falls are due to unspecified reasons and whilst moving about on one level. This may reflect instability associated with impaired general health.
The cause of a fall is often multi-factorial, involving both environmental hazards and an underlying medical condition. Strength, balance and gait, decline in vision, mental health problems and deficiencies in the diet are all contributory risk factors. Although prescription medicines are seldom the cause of falls, they may also be a major risk factor.
Falls affect over a third of people over 65 years old and 40% of people over 80. 5
The Public Health Agency (PHA), in partnership with councils across Northern Ireland, has produced a falls prevention video to raise awareness of the measures we can take at home to prevent falls, which can be viewed below or at pha.site/StaySteady.
The Health Survey for Northern Ireland 2017/18 found that 23% of respondents aged 55 and over reported having had a fall in or around their home in the last two years.”
Incorporating small changes into everyday routine can be beneficial in preventing an accident at home.
In addition to removing hazards that could cause a trip, engaging in regular physical activity, to develop and maintain strength and balance, is also particularly important as we get older. Exercises designed to improve muscle strength, some of which are highlighted in the video, can reduce the risk of a fall by improving posture, coordination and balance.
Risk factors for falls
Research has indicated a wide range of multiple risk factors for falls. 1
- Physical ability and lack of mobility, balance and gait disorders
- Nutritional status - vitamin D and calcium deficiency
- Medication - analgesics, antidepressants etc.
- Acute and chronic diseases and disorders including stroke and heart disease
- Female gender
- Environmental hazards
- A history of previous falls.
Fractures, particularly hip fractures are one of the most debilitating results of an accidental fall. Ninety per cent of hip fractures occur among those aged 50 and over. 4
Hip fracture is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. It can result in medical complications, infections, blood clot in the leg and failure to regain mobility.
The increased popularity of hip protectors has been very useful in preventing the severity of a falls-related injury. Click here to read the full document 'How Safe are Hip Protectors?' (PDF 128kb).
- Avoid leaving items on the stairs - they can become a tripping hazard
- Ensure stairs are carefully maintained - damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed
- Try to avoid repetitive carpet patterns that may produce a false perception for those with poor eyesight
- Landings, stairs and hallways should be well lit with two-way light switches
- Make sure banisters are sturdy. The fitting of two easy-grip handrails gives more stability
Facing up to Falls
RoSPA, the UK's leading accident prevention charity, has created the short film, Facing up to Falls, as part of its Safer Homes project. It aims to provide families and older people with practical steps to avoid falls by highlighting key issues that lead to a tumble.
The film contains advice on preventing a fall and involves real-life experiences of older people living in the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Newham.
More than 3,500 people in England and Wales die every year as a result of a fall and nearly a third of a million people need hospital treatment. Many older people who suffer from falls never fully recover from either the physical or psychological impact of their injuries.
Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures and the treatment of these alone is estimated to cost around £2billion 1. Falls are a significant and growing public health issue in an ageing population.
This film is downloadable to members of the public and professionals working with older people.
Can flooring and underlay materials reduce the number of hip fractures in the elderly?
Hip fractures in the elderly after a fall are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. They can result in complications, infections, blood clot in the legs and failure to regain mobility. Hip fractures can have a serious impact on a person's life.
One suggested method of preventing hip fracture is through the use of improved flooring. Slippery floors and unsuitable shoes are some of the major factors that contribute to over a third of all falls annually.
Can flooring and underlay materials reduce the number of hip fractures in the elderly? (PDF 248kb)
Falls are so commonplace that they are accepted as almost inevitable. More public awareness needs to be achieved. Professionals and carers can help older people to sustain an active life where possible by helping them to identify potential hazards and making known sources of assistance.
Older people need to be made aware of:
- The importance of using the right equipment to carry out the task in hand
- Loss of balance through sudden movements, e.g. getting out of bed or a chair too quickly
- The danger of slipping and tripping created by worn rugs, slippery floors or paths, uneven surfaces, trailing flexes, and items left lying around
- Loose or badly worn footwear. Well-fitting shoes can help with balance and stability
- Grab rails and places to sit down in the bathroom and kitchen could be an advantage if dizzy spells occur
- Spills on the floor should be cleaned up immediately to prevent slipping on them.
What to do if you have a fall:
- Don't panic - you will probably feel a little shocked and shaken but try and stay calm
- If unhurt look for something to hold onto and something soft to put under the knees
- Hold onto a firm object for support and out the soft object under the knees; place one foot flat on the floor with the knee bent in front of the body
- Lean forward putting weight on hands and foot until it is possible to place other foot beside the one on the floor
- Sit down and rest for a short time.
What to do if hurt:
- Try to get comfortable until help arrives
- Keep warm, starting with feet and legs
- It is uncomfortable to keep still for any length of time and this may lead to pressure problems. Moving position every half hour and moving feet helps the circulation and improves comfort.