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Falls Awareness Week

Published on 18 February 2019 08:21 AM

Three national charities in Wales are coming together this week urging older people to take a few simple measures to help prevent falls.

The three charities; Age Cymru, Age Connects Wales, and Care and Repair Cymru, all work with older people on a day to day basis and are all too familiar with the devastating impact a fall can have on an older person’s quality of life.

Following a fall many older people lose their self-confidence, become fearful of venturing outside and become trapped in their own home. Such an existence can lead to a life of loneliness and isolation and even a deterioration in their physical and mental well-being.

So, as part of Falls Awareness Week, 18 – 25 February 2019, the charities are launching an easy to use conversation prompt for GPs to open up a dialogue with their older patients on falls.

The charities are also focusing on how general practitioners can help prevent falls amongst their older patients. During the week, GPs will be encouraged to take two minutes to ask older patients aged 65+ whether they have suffered a fall and to focus the key questions of why, where, and what may have contributed to that fall. GPs will also be urged to discuss what their older patients can do to reduce the risk of falling by handing patients a check list of things to consider called Take Action Today. It urges older people to consider aspects such as their medication, eyesight, blood pressure, lifestyle, footwear and even potential trip hazards in the home.

Age Cymru’s Angharad Phillips said: “Taking into consideration that the risk factors for falls are so numerous, there is so much that we can do ourselves to keep from falling, simple things like regular sight tests with an optician, speaking to your pharmacist about how you use your medication, joining a community based strength and balance class should be part of your routine. These are simple measures but they can have significant benefits in terms of protecting older people from falls.”

Care and Repair Cymru’s Neil Williams said: “Falls cost the Welsh NHS millions of pounds each year and are the cause thousands of avoidable deaths in Wales. But falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and there are many simple measures we can take to reduce their occurrence. It’s crucial that GPs get involved in the process and encourage their older patients to talk about falls.”

Case study

Mavis Williams, 84

“When I had a fall in my garden last year, I was stranded on the cold floor outside for five hours before my neighbour found me and called for an ambulance but believe me it felt like a lifetime.

“While I was in hospital receiving treatment, a hospital-to-home caseworker from Care & Repair came to visit me, and straight away organised to meet my daughter at home the next morning to install a grab rail and Telecare system for me. It meant I could be discharged sooner than would normally be expected.

“Once I was home, the caseworker visited me again to complete a full assessment and get a thorough understanding of what I needed to help me carry on living independently and safely at home. They were so thorough and checked things I wouldn’t have even considered.

“The steps in my garden, which were the reason I fell in the first place, and getting in and out of the bath were particularly troublesome for me. I was also having trouble with my boiler. They managed to find grants to help with the cost of a wet room, a new boiler and to fit a handrail to help with the steps in the garden.

“Without Care & Repair, I would’ve spent a lot more time in the hospital, and when I eventually got home again it would have been a lot more difficult and still unsafe. They really put my mind at ease so I could focus on getting better.”

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