Falls and fall-related injuries are common and serious problems for older people. People aged 65 and above have the highest risk of falling with 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 falling once a year (source NICE clinical guideline 161, June 2013).
Despite this, falls are not an inevitable part of ageing. Children and athletes often fall, but the reason that such interest is taken in people over the age of 65 is that implications of a fall for this group are often very significant and can often result in the failure to recover to their previous level of health. Frailty is related to the reduction in an individual’s function that develops as part of the ageing process.
Experts believe that the vast majority of falls could be prevented with some fairly modest changes to our lifestyle. People at risk of falls are often reluctant to discuss it because they fear their independence may be taken away from them, its up you us to persuade them that the opposite is true: that by taking positive steps to prevent falls they will preserve their health and independence for longer.
OBSERVE if the person seems unsteady when walking or rising from a seating to a standing position
ASK - You seem a bit unsteady, which much be annoying, I hear that you can do something about that
OBSERVE if the person is shuffling or walking really slowly
ASK - Have you had a fall over the last 12 months or do you have a fear of falling?
- A fear of falling is a common symptom in people who have had a fall even when person had not injured themselves, its increases the chance of further falls, because they are often unable to act rationally when about to fall, as panic kicks in.
- Check if they informed their GP of the fall as they can often help by reviewing medication, supporting eye test etc
Do you spend quite a lot of time sitting down if you are worried about having a fall?
- Sitting down for long periods can actually harm balance, body strength and mobility, which in turn makes a fall even more likely, its a vicious circle that damages confidence and independence.
Would you like some information on the benefits of keeping active and moving?
- The more active you can be the more you can offset the effects of ageing
- These activities are fantastic for maintaining balance and mobility
- Walking to the shops rather than driving
- Strengthening and balance fitness classes
- When sitting, keep your back as straight as possible to avoid a stooped posture
- When watching TV, roll your shoulders regularly and get up and walk about in ad breaks or between programmes
Would you like some information on the top five ways to avoid slips trips and falls?
- Badly fitting shoes - Our feet change shape with age and lose some feeling and flexibility, soles should be thin enough for you to feel the ground but have enough cushioning for shock-absorption and good tread for gripping
- Trailing clothes - Hems of trousers that are too long or loose belts or cords for dressing gowns
- 'Shuffly' walking - Its easy to get in the habit of not lifting your feet as high as you used to when walking but this increases your chance of tripping
- Worn out slippers - Its may be time to say goodbye to your old friends, frayed uppers and sloppy backs, Slippers should fasten and stay on and provide grip.
- Walking on socks/tights on hard floors - Don't do it, wear good slippers instead
Would you like some information on ways to try and fall proof your home?
Fall proof your home - 6 out of 10 falls happen in the home but a few simple changes can help
- Lighting - Avoid trailing cables - Use a bedside lamp when getting up at night
- Living areas - Check rugs have a non slip underlay, consider replaying or repairing frayed carpets - remove any clutter from hall, landing, stairs and doorways
- Garden - Keep paths free of moss and leaves where possible - Repair cracks in paving
- Kitchen/Bathroom - Rearrange cupboards so that frequently used items are in easy reach - Use a non slip matt in the shower/bath, consider installing grab rails in bathroom
Remember installing hand rails and non-slips mats might make you feel older but they can ensure that you are able to be more independent for longer and give you more freedom, not less.
There is a wealth of information and ways to prevent falls on the following websites
- Saga - Discover ways to stay fit at saga.co.uk/falls
- Age Uk - Information on falls prevention, exercise classes and handyman services in some areas. Call free on 0800 169 6565 or see ageuk.org.uk/falls
- The effective assessment of an individual’s risk of a fall would be a multifactorial intervention considering falls history, visual impairment etc. This assessment would enable the referral of an individual to effective interventions targeted at specific risk factors
- Your GP may carry out some simple tests to check your balance. They can also review any medicines you're taking, in case their side effects may increase your risk of falling. Your GP may also recommend:
- having a sight test if you're having problems with your vision, even if you already wear glasses
- having an electrocardiogram (ECG) and checking your blood pressure while lying and standing
- requesting a home hazard assessment, where a healthcare professional visits your home to identify potential hazards and offer
- advice doing exercises to improve your strength and balance (try some exercises for older people)
A full range of services can be found on the Live Well Barnsley website
Chair Based Exercises and Healthy Bones (classes around Barnsley)
Tel: 07895 380615
South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Equipmnet, adaptation and sensory impairment service
The service provides assistance to people with physical and/or sensory disabilities. We help people make the most of their abilities to remain as independent as possible in their own homes. We provide advice and information, assistance with obtaining specialist equipment,assistance with adaptations to the home, advice regarding moving and handling, mobility training for people with visual impairment.
Tel: 01226 775800
Be Well Barnsley –Support for all ages to lead healthier and happier lives. We will work with you to set goals and motivate you along the way and can spend time talking through the challenges your facing, providing information you can trust.
Tel: 0800 0169 133
Web: - https://bewell-barnsley.com/
My Best Life Barnsley - (GP Referral Only)
Our advisors work with people to connect them with local non-medical support. They can visit you at home, or wherever you feel
most comfortable, at a time that suits you best – including evenings and weekends They’ll work with you to put together your own action plan that can help with a range of things, including:
• Improve mental wellbeing
• Manage your physical health and symptoms
• Lead a healthier lifestyle
• Improve your home environment
• Get involved in your local community
• Maximise your income and access benefits
• Find work, training and volunteering opportunities
East Riding Falls Service
The East Riding Fall Prevention Service provides a multi-disciplinary health assessment aimed at identifying reasons for falls and providing intervention plans which focus on minimising risks of further falls. The interventions that follow are jointly agreed between the service and the client. Clients registered with an east Riding GP can access this service.
Falls-related enquiries can be directed to:
Tel: 01482 861802
East Riding Falls Service
East Riding Community Hospital
Hull Falls Prevention Service
The Hull Fall Prevention Service provides a multi-disciplinary health assessment aimed at identifying reasons for falls and providing intervention plans which focus on minimising risks of further falls. The interventions that follow are jointly agreed between the service and the client. The service can be accessed via a single point of contact. Clients registered with a Hull GP can access this service.
Tel: 01482 247111
Kirklees Council - Gateway to Care
01484 414933 (24 hours a day 7 days a week)
Kirklees Council - Gateway to Care
Gateway to care is the first point of contact for everyone that would like information or advice on adult social care and support services available in Kirklees. Gateway to care people to stay safer and more independent in their homes with the help of equipment and adaptations.
Gateway to care supports self-referral.
Customer Service Centre, Civic Centre 3, Market Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2YZ
Customer Service Centre, Walsh Building, Town Hall Way, Dewsbury, WF12 8EQ
Falls Services (Care Plus Group)
Hope Specialist Service provides a patient centred one stop shop for older people at risk of falls.
Hope Street Medical Centre
North Lincolnshire Council
'Active Ageing' - A programme that offers a 'gentler' less strenuous approach to exercise
Tel: 01724 297270
Age UK Lindsey
Activities for older people to support balance including games group and mobility aids for sale or to hire at Lifestyle Centre, 34a Crosby Road, Scunthorpe, DN15 6SF. Foot care service also available in Centre.
Tel: 01724 849819
If you think you need help talk to your GP about the Sheffield Falls Prevention Service.
Sheffield City Wide Care Alarms
Tel: (0114) 242 0351
Phone: 0114 2420351
Other info: City Wide Care Alarms can provide fall sensors and care alarms that can provide peace of mind for you or someone you care for. (There is a charge for this service)
Public Health - Wakefield Council
Live Well Wakefield community based service which has been set up to support adults aged 18+ to improve their health and wellbeing. Please contact this service through by using the telephone number above or you can contact this service through the website.
YorWellbeing Falls Prevention Scheme
If you are worried about falling in your own home, or sometimes feel unsteady on your feet at home, YorWellbeing are offering free home safety visits to all residents in Clifton and Guildhall Wards who want practical help and advice to reduce the risk of falls in their home.