Falls among the elderly are very common. In fact, they are the main reason for hospital admissions, often requiring ambulances to be called out to assist. Once over the age of 65 the risk of having a fall at some point in the future rises to 30%, and for people over the age of 80, that rises to 50%. This means that if you live to 100, you are pretty much guaranteed to have had a hospitalising fall at some point after your 65th birthday.
Falls are a constant worry to those caring for their parents and loved ones; especially as you can’t always be there to help. This article will take you through some of the key information on falls and how you can prevent them in the home., and what to do when they happen.
What are the main causes of falls?
The cause of a fall varies from person to person. It is vital to talk with your loved one about the risks. These conversations can be difficult but are important.
Some personal attributes can lead to falls, yet have simple solutions. Things a person can do to ensure they are at less risk of a fall include:
- Maintaining a healthy diet with sufficient fluid intake
- Have regular eye tests when needed
- Wear well-fitted footwear with a gripping sole
- Avoid long and loose clothing
- Have regular hearing tests and always wear the prescribed aids
- Keep belongings at reach and avoid unnecessary bending or stretching
- Ensure toilet facilities are easily accessible
As well as personal attributes, some environmental risk factors can also be to blame for falls, which include:
- Poor lighting in the home
- Uneven surfaces, rugs and frayed carpets
- Clutter around the house and unstable furniture
- Lack of grab rails and mobility aids
- The side effects of certain medication
- Some medical conditions, arthritis, parkinsons, MS and more
How a fall can affect someone?
The major impact of a fall is often reduced mobility and confidence, even with the lightest of injuries. This, in turn, leads to a loss of independence, where a person may need to rely on help to move and wash. This can be incredibly upsetting, as no one wants to burden their children or friends. This makes it important that you talk about it and try to help them to keep a positive outlook, in order to aid their recovery.
What injuries can be sustained from a fall?
Most falls result in minor injuries such as small cuts and bruises. However, around 5% of falls can lead to hospital admission with severe and life-threatening broken bones and fractures.
As mentioned previously it is not only physical problems which can arise from a fall. A fall can have a serious effect on an elderly person’s state of mind, as a loss of independence can cause serious stress and upset for themselves, and those caring for them.
How long can recovery from a fall take?
Often recovering from a fall can take a long time, particularly when bones are broken. In some cases, many elderly people will never fully recover from a fall.
Helping a loved one recover from a fall can be hard, worse if you are unsure on what to do. Ringing 111 is always a great way to get advice when helping someone recover from a fall. However, if they begin to deteriorate 999 should be called immediately.
How can I prevent falls from happening?
As well as the earlier list, in order to try and prevent falls in the first place, your GP is a good place to start. They can organise for a falls prevention team to risk assess the home and physical state of those you are concerned about. It may be that they need to de-clutter or have aids fitted around their home. However, in the long run, it may save them a trip to the hospital!
A great resource to take a look at is The National Institue of Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) regularly updated quality standards plan, which assists in both the prevention and recurrence of falls.
The cost of treating falls costs the NHS an estimated 2.5 billion per year, something which is preventable.
The importance of knowledge on falls
As you can see there are lots of things to be aware of when caring for an elderly family member or friend, when it comes to falls.
For further information on the risk of falls and how to prevent them from visiting: