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Falls and over 60s

   Falls and over 60s

Each year an alarming amount of older people have a fall which can have a huge impact on their quality of life. RoSPA shares some tips to help avoid slips and trips.

October the 1st is the UN’s designated International Day of Older Persons. On this day, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) would like to highlight a common occurrence that is reducing quality of life, limiting opportunities and even causing death among over the 60s: falls.

A startling number of people have falls. In 2014/15, more than 282,000 people over the age of 65 were admitted to hospital in England because of a fall. According to the NHS, around 1 in 3 adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls.

Worryingly, there have been a number of incidents lately where an older person has had a fall at home but the emergency services have taken longer than expected to reach the scene. Last month, an 86-year-old woman from Birmingham fell at home but had to wait almost four hours for an ambulance to arrive. The Telegraph, also recently reported that three pensioners in East Sussex died awaiting medical assistance after falling at home.
RoSPA have published plenty of useful tips to help prevent a fall.

Why do falls happen?
Older people are more likely to have a fall because they may have:
  • Balance problems and muscle weakness 
  • Impaired vision
  • A long-term health condition, such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure (hypotension), which can lead to dizziness and a brief loss of consciousness.
Avoiding a fall:
  • 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.
Getting back up after 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 put a 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 you have fall:
  • 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.
To help educate the public about falls RoSPA has created the short film, Facing up to Falls, which 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.

This film is downloadable to members of the public and professionals working with older people.
Ashley Martin, public health adviser

Posted: 10/1/2019 2:43:11 PM 0 comments


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