Reducing the Risk and Preventing Falls in the Elderly
Falls are a significant public health issue in the UK, with more than 240,000 falls-related hospital admissions each year. The consequences of falls can range from
- Bruises and cuts
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Reduced mobility
Preventing Falls in the Elderly
As falls are a common problem among the elderly which can lead to severe consequences, so here are some effective ways to reduce the risk of falls:
Comprehensive assessment and intervention
Since falls are often caused by multiple factors, a comprehensive assessment of an elderly's health and living space can be very effective. Based on the assessment, a tailored intervention plan can be developed to address the specific risk factors identified. You should contact your GP or social care provider if you or your loved one needs such an assessment and they will be able to guide you.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Exercise and physical therapy can help improve strength, balance, and walking postures and manners, all of which are important for preventing falls. This may include exercises to strengthen the lower body and improve balance, as well as aerobic exercise to improve overall health and fitness. The NHS has useful guidance on fitness and exercise for older adults made available online which is effective and simple to follow.
Understanding Physical Fitness and Exercise for Seniors is crucial before beginning with any physical therapy.
Medication review and management
A medication review and medication management plan can help ensure that the individual is taking the appropriate medications at the appropriate doses, and can help identify any potential interactions that could increase the risk of falls. Elderly adults should avoid walking or moving for sometime after taking their medications that may specifically cause drowsiness.
Vision and hearing assessment and treatment
Impaired vision and hearing can increase the risk of falls, so it's important to have regular checkups and follow up with treatment if necessary. This may include glasses or hearing aids, as well as other interventions to improve visual and auditory function. The NHS recommends regular checkups for older adults above 65 by their GPs to ensure they are able to see and hear clearly.
Home safety modifications
Environmental hazards are a major contributor to falls, so it's important to assess the home environment for potential hazards and make necessary modifications. This may include installing grab bars and handrails, removing tripping hazards, improving lighting, and making other modifications to improve safety. Local Councils have home assessment programs where they assess your home for potential hazards and help with necessary adaptations.
Proper footwear is important for maintaining balance and stability, so it's important to assess footwear for proper fit and support. Shoes should fit well and provide good support, and should be appropriate for the activities being performed.
Nutrition assessment and management
Proper nutrition is important for maintaining overall health and strength, which can help reduce the risk of falls. A nutrition assessment can help identify any deficiencies or other issues that could be contributing to the risk of falls, and a management plan can help ensure that the individual is getting the nutrients they need.
Read more on Nutrition and Healthy Eating for Older Adults.
Fall Prevention Programs and Initiatives
Fall prevention programs and initiatives are critical to reducing the number of falls among the elderly population. In the UK, there are a number of national and local programs aimed at preventing falls in the elderly.
The NHS provides a number of national fall prevention programs to help reduce the risk of falls in the elderly population. One such program is the Falls Management Exercise Programme, which is a structured exercise program that aims to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.
There are also a number of local fall prevention programs that are run by councils and community organisations. These programs often involve exercises, home assessments (as mentioned earlier), awareness on fall prevention and advice on home safety modifications to help reduce the risk of falls in the elderly population.
Residential and nursing homes also often have initiatives involving a combination of exercise programs, assessments, and staff training to help reduce the risk of falls in the elderly population living in these facilities. Additionally, many facilities also implement technology solutions such as fall detection systems and monitoring devices to provide rapid response in the event of a fall.
Read also, Managing Falls and Fall-Related Injuries.
Fall prevention programs and initiatives are critical to reducing the risk of falls in the elderly population. By providing education, resources, and support, these programs can help reduce the risk of falls and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the elderly.