Taking the Fall
Falling over is often a laughable moment in TV programmes and family video nights, but for people in their later years, they're not so funny. Falls account for significant levels of disability, loss of independence and hosptialisations in older people. Many of them are preventable.
Balance is a big problem for a lot of older people. Their balance systems in their ears and vision might not be as effective. Muscles and joints that don't work so well or respond as quickly when the body feels itself out of balance. Then, medications can often cause dizziness.
Falls can lead to serious injury, and can mean a change in independence for some or many aspects of daily living. Not to mention the loss of confidence that comes with it. If people make no other changes in their later years, the things they put in place for falls prevention would be the greatest benefit to them.
There are a lot of things that can be done to reduce risks. The obvious one is removing the things you can trip over. Mats and towels or folded washing on the floor, bed spreads that have folds sticking out or are very long are often causes of trips and falls. Cluttered environments make it harder to move around freely, especially when there is a mobility aid involved. Outside the home is also an important area to consider. There might be slippery slopes, bunched up concrete, broken steps. If you can't get these fixed, see if there are ways to avoid the areas or to make safer work-arounds.
Shoes are another easy fix. Think about the shoes you wear each day but also the slippers at night. These are often where people neglect themselves, opting for fluffiness rather than shape! A firmer slipper which grips your foot properly will reduce your risks of trips.
Other ideas are to have your medication reviewed: Your pharmacist might be able to point out medications that are more likely to be causing dizziness, or suggest ways to take them to reduce the risks, or perhaps ask your doctor about alternatives. You can see a physiotherapist to provide exercises that increase strength and balance. An occupational therapist can do an overview of your home and make suggestions about anything that increases your risk.
At LYS we take falls risk very seriously and often take the opportunity to remind people about such simple ways to reduce their risk. Stay safe people.