Prevent falls: Know your risks
Tripping and falling are one of the key reasons many older people end up with injuries and stays in hospitals.
This week is Falls Prevention Week (Sept 20-24), Oxford Health is joining the national effort to raise awareness that falls are preventable.
Our Falls Prevention Service specialists in Oxfordshire are on hand to help – by carrying out assessments to identify a patient’s falls risk and provide a management plan for both the patient and their GP.
With one in three people over the age of 65 and half of those aged over 80 suffering a fall at least once a year, it’s now time to refocus efforts on preventing these incidents.
We know that for some of our patients, our help can be life-changing, giving people more confidence and independence. Below we hear from one of the people we helped.
But first here are our 10 Top tips to help prevent falls and keep you safe
- Keep active and avoid sitting for long periods. If you lack confidence try a walking aid.
- If you have a fall, do not ignore it – tell someone (GP/ family).
- Ask your GP to review your medications and ask about their side effects.
- Have your eyesight checked once a year. Be aware multifocal glasses can affect your depth perception.
- Increase your calcium and vitamin D intake (from dairy produce, tinned fish and sunlight).
- Consider handrails on the stairs, steps, doorways and in the bathroom.
- Ensure your home is well lit, especially on the stairs and landings. Turn on a light when getting out of bed at night.
- If possible, keep items in easy reach to avoid climbing, bending and stretching.
- Ensure your shoes and slippers fit well and have your toenails cut regularly.
- Wear your pendant alarm or keep a mobile phone with you.
Find out more about our Falls Prevention Service here including GP referral form and contact details
A life changer for Anne
Our patient Anne received a full assessment from our specialist and went on to work through the Otago Exercise Programme, consisting of 17 strength and balance exercises and a walking routine three times a week.
This is what she told us:
“I am a patient in my late 80s, and it is with pleasure that I write about my experiences in connection with The Falls Prevention Service – as the contact with them changed my life. This sounds melodramatic, but I shall not forget the professionalism, support and kindness of the staff involved as they helped me to move and walk properly again – and above all keep my balance.
After years of back troubles, operations and osteoporosis, serious exercise seemed impossible. I was reluctant to make the effort to walk and began to have dizziness attacks. Out of the blue my GP recommended referral to the Falls Prevention Service, whose existence was new to me.
So began a programme of individual exercise with an excellent guidebook and the FPS oversight, with assessment on progress every four weeks from regular physios for six months.
They added their own hints learnt over years of experience, and that certainly helped, too. That reminds me that the positive and encouraging attitude of the staff made me take my duty as patient seriously.
The most valuable help I received was in learning to stand up from a chair more elegantly and quietly – no grunts! – and keep my balance. I can now walk at a better speed and further, though age is against me, so it does vary from day to day.
When the unit was closed during Covid and the staff were redirected to other NHS duties, I was not forgotten. Suddenly the phone rang saying they were back in operation and would I like them to resume. You can imagine my reply.
Now the six months are a memory. It was time to say goodbye and continue using the exercises as I feel. Other people must be enjoying the benefits I had.”
Yvonne Giddings, the falls specialist nurse who worked with Anne, said: “Anne explained about the lack of strength in her legs, that her knee had given way and unsteadiness, so although she wanted to remain active this was proving difficult. Fear of falling is a huge deterrent to exercise.
“We discussed completing the Home Based Exercise programme with a physiotherapist to address these problems and build confidence and it so pleasing to know the team can make such a positive change.”
To find out more about the Oxfordshire Falls Prevention service click here.
Published: 22 September 2021