Falls are a common, but often overlooked, cause of injury. Around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls.
Most falls don't result in serious injury. However, there's always a risk that a fall could lead to broken bones, and it can cause the person to lose confidence, become withdrawn and feel as if they've lost their independence.
What to do if you have a fall - it's important to keep calm.
- If you're not hurt and you feel strong enough to get up, don't get up quickly. Roll onto your hands and knees and look for a stable piece of furniture, such as a chair or bed.
- Hold on to the furniture with both hands to support yourself and, when you feel ready, slowly get up. Sit down and rest for a while before carrying on with your daily activities.
- If you are hurt or unable to get up, try to get someone's attention by calling out for help, banging on the wall or floor, or using your Lifeline button (if you have one). If possible, crawl to a telephone and dial 999 to request an ambulance.
- Try to reach something warm, such as a blanket or coat, to put over you, particularly your legs and feet. Stay as comfortable as possible and try to change your position at least once every half an hour or so.
Why do older people fall?
The natural ageing process means that older people have an increased risk of having a fall. In the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75.
Older people are more likely to have a fall because they may have:
- balance problems and weakness of the muscles
- poor vision
- a long-term health condition, such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure (hypotension) which can lead to dizziness and a brief loss of consciousness.
A fall is also more likely to happen when:
- the floor is wet or recently polished, such as in the bathroom or kitchen
- the lighting in the room is dim
- rugs or carpets aren't properly secured
- the person is reaching for storage areas, such as a cupboard, or is going down stairs
- the person is rushing to get to the toilet during the day or at night.
There are several measures you can take to help prevent a fall. Simple everyday measures around the home include:
- using non-slip mats in the bathroom
- mopping up spills to prevent wet, slippery floors
- getting help lifting or moving items that are heavy or difficult to lift
- Removing clutter and ensuring all areas of the home are well lit can also help to prevent falls.
What can the Age UK Falls Prevention Team do?
The Age UK Falls prevention team can visit you in your home and carry out a holistic risk assessment to identify any potential risks in the home as well as offer advice on how to prevent any further falls occurring. Our Team also go out into the community and offer information and advice to Social groups as well as other professionals working in Health and Social Care.
How we can help
Leaflets are available from the Age UK Hull office at Porter Street, Hull, and our staff are on hand to advise you.
Call us on 01482 591 537 for more information on the Falls Prevention service.