Elderly people are especially at risk of seriously injuring themselves as a result of falls they incur. In fact it’s estimated that around 3,000 people in the UK over 65 are killed each year as a result of falls.
How to Lessen the Risk of Suffering a Fall
Such is the concern at the number of fatalities that occur as the result of a fall that the Department of Trade and Industry have published some guidelines which, it is hoped, will reduce the likelihood of suffering a fall which, for many elderly people, could be life threatening.
They suggest that people should do all they can to remain as physically active as possible, citing poor balance and weak muscles to often be the result of inactivity. Even some gentle exercise such as a daily walk to the shops or a bit of light gardening can help. Having a daily routine can also help elderly people as the familiarity of a set routine lessens the risk of injuries occurring.
Getting up from a chair or out of bed and using the stairs are the most common causes of falls amongst the frail and elderly. However, the important thing to remember is not to rush. Take your time and this helps prevent sudden light-headedness which can cause you to fall. If you are particularly vulnerable to falls, it may mean that you need to make certain modifications around your home to assist with balance. Use the hand rail along the stairs and take your time. Stair lifts, hand grips either side of your front and back door and a whole array of bathroom aids, including bath hoists might also be considered. You should also ensure that nothing is left lying around the floor in all of the rooms in your house so that you won’t trip over them and make sure any carpets are in good condition. Be careful with rugs too and any slippery floors when wet.
Be aware of the state of your health and monitor it regularly. If you start feeling out of sorts, it’s important to consult your GP and get checked out. You should also arrange to have regular eye and foot checks.
Many people die from falling as they’re unable to get up again and are left lying on the floor for several hours and sometimes days before they are found. It’s useful to have a friendly neighbour pop in for a few minutes each day or you could ask them to phone you each day, just so they can make sure that you’re OK.
A healthy diet containing vitamin D and calcium found in foods such as yoghurt, cheese and milk is also recommended as they make your bones stronger which reduces the risk of fracture should you fall. You should only wear suitable shoes. Footwear with heels or which have open-backed heels should be avoided.
If You Should Fall
The most important thing is to try not to panic. If you’re suffering from pain, try to get somebody’s attention before you attempt to move but if no-one’s around, you should try to crawl towards a chair and sit in it, before attempting to stand. If you cannot get up whatsoever, try to keep yourself warm, if possible, by covering your body with anything that might be close to hand. If you can reach the phone, try to alert a neighbour – even by banging on the wall, if you have to. If you anticipate that help might not be imminent, try to get yourself in as comfortable a position as possible but try to stay awake and alert in order to re-attempt to summon help sporadically.
Following a fall, it’s crucial that you tell your GP about it. In telling them what precisely happened, it may well be that a combination of medications you might be taking have contributed to the fall or your GP might be able to make suggestions which could help to minimise the risk of you falling again in the future.