Over half of over 65s will have a fall in any given year and falls are the main cause of emergency admissions for that age group so it is not surprising that we worry about our parents falling. Alastair Shanks, Managing Director at Right at Home talks about preventing falls and their consequences in our latest video blog.
Reduce the risk of falling
The good news is that there are several steps older people can take to cut the risk of falling.
Exercise is perhaps the most important as being fit and able to get about maintains our mobility and stability.
Activities and classes are useful; there are specialist falls awareness classes but simply going for regular walks is also very worthwhile. Our Love to Move exercise sessions are seated classes but still help keep people active.
Diet and hydration is also important as becoming dehydrated can increase the chance of falling. More frequent but smaller meals – such as five small meals instead of three big ones – are better. And while one glass of wine is unlikely to cause a problem, having a few glasses of wine does increase the risk of a fall.
Good fitting shoes help stability, avoid high heels and choose slippers that stay on rather than those you can slip on and off. Comfortable clothing that allows free movement is also better than restrictive items.
Visibility is important so having a regular eye test and updating lenses when needed is advised.
There are lots of walking and standing aids that help with stability. An occupational therapist can advise on walking sticks, frames and other equipment. You can ask your GP for a referral to an occupational therapist or visit a mobility shop for advice.
Encourage your parent to be sensible and to be open to making some changes to keep themselves safe. For example, rather than climbing on a chair to change a light bulb, could they wait for you to visit to do it for them?
There may be room for improvement in the safety of your parent’s home. An occupational therapist – again, available by asking for a GP referral – can assess their house or flat and recommend aids such as grab rails but you and your parent can look around yourselves: the edges of rugs are easy to trip on as are trailing electrical cables. Putting things away after use means there are fewer things to trip over.
Good lighting can help too. For instance, fitting motion sensitive lights that come on automatically can light the way to the bathroom at night.
What if a fall does occur?
For someone living alone, there is a big risk that they may not be able to get to a phone to ask for help if they do fall over.
Pendant alarms and alarms worn on the wrist can sense when the wearer has fallen, sending an alert to an agency, neighbour or relative.
Services like our Right at Home Light enable our clients to check-in on a phone or tablet a set number of times a day. If this does not happen, we will visit to make sure they are all right. Similar services or regular care visits are other options.
There is lots more information available on the NHS website and Age UK website – or get in contact with us at Right at Home to find out how we can help. We provide home care all over Farnham, Fleet, Farnborough, Godalming, Guildford, Bordon, Alton and surrounding towns and villages.