Coinciding with Falls Prevention Week on 18-23 September, clinical leaders including senior doctors in the North West are advising people who may be at increased risk of a fall – along with their family members and carers – to take some simple actions now to help keep them safe.
In 2020 almost a thousand people across the North West died as a result of a fall at home. The greatest proportion of those were over the age of 75, where 730 people died as a result of a fall. Falls are also the number one reason for an older person to be taken to A and E with around 1 in 20 sustaining a broken bone and needing hospital admission.
Last year the North West Ambulance Service visited almost 78,000 people across the region as a result of a fall, with more than 46,000 having to go to hospital.
A third of people aged over 65, and half of those aged over 80, fall over at least once a year. Since 2010 the number of people requiring hospital admission as a result of a fall has risen by 16 percent.
Dr Michael Gregory, Regional Medical Director at NHS England, said: “Falls are painful and can cause injuries. It is unfortunate that some people never fully recover from a fall. Those people who do recover, however, tend to lose their independence and their confidence. During Falls Prevention Week, it is crucial people take some simple actions to keep safe, and avoid falling and coming into hospital. People might be surprised to know that one of the main reasons people end up in A and E is because they’ve had a fall.”
Professor Martin Vernon, Senior Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Lead for Frailty at the Greater Manchester Strategic Clinical Network, said: “There are many factors which can increase the risk of a person falling over including long term health conditions, such as heart disease, disorders of the nervous system including dementia or other disabling conditions and side effects of medication.
“While some of these factors may not be reversible, there are also many important causes of falls which can be addressed more easily such as reduced physical activity, loss of balance – particularly among older people – poor vision, particularly among those living in a care home, and unsafe environments.”
As people get older, they are increasingly likely to sustain a fall, but in many cases, this can be prevented through a few simple actions. Taking simple actions can significantly reduce your risk of having a fall.
Make sure your home is safe:
- Immediately mop up spillages
- Remove clutter, trailing wires and tape down frayed carpet
- Use non-slip mats and rugs
- Make sure all rooms, passages and staircases are well lit
- Organise your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
- Get help to do things you’re unable to do safely on your own
Be safe and take care of yourself:
- Don’t walk on slippery floors in socks or tights
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
- Wear well-fitting shoes in good condition that support your ankles
- Take care of your feet by trimming your toenails regularly
- See a GP or podiatrist (foot health professional) about any foot problems
If you can, get more active:
- Regular strength and balance exercises can significantly reduce your risk of having a fall
- This can take the form of simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes
- Many community centres and local gyms offer strength and balance training for older people
- Home exercises are also available
- Ask a GP about training programmes in your area
Prof Vernon added: “The vast majority of falls are preventable and it’s a real concern that the number of people affected by a fall is growing, especially as there are plenty of simple things we can do to prevent falls and injuries.
“I recommend everyone takes some simple precautions to help them take care of themselves, make their homes safer and increase activity to improve strength and balance. For people who are on-line there are some good Apps they can look at such as KOKUhealth.com.”