Did you know that nearly half of all people living in residential aged care facilities experience a ‘fall’ each year?
The World Health Organisation defines a fall as ‘an event that results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level’.† An injurious fall is a fall that causes a fracture to the limbs or hip and shoulders, or one that causes a traumatic brain injury.
All older people may be at risk of a fall but especially if they have one or more of the following:
- Have had an unexplained trip or fall in the last 12 months
- Have poor balance – or need to use a stick or hold onto things to keep their balance
- Have difficulty with walking or getting up from a knee high chair
- Are taking 4 or more prescribed medications regularly
- Are affected by Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease or Dementia
- Have dizzy spells, light headed, palpitations, low blood pressure or incontinence
- Are becoming unsteady on their feet, or unable to do as much for themselves as they used to
- Have visual impairment or unsafe footwear.
While some falls cause no injuries, others can cause serious harm. Falls can also result in you fearing further falls and make it harder for you to stay independent.
Aged care staff can assist you to reduce your risk of falling by:
- helping you to settle in, keeping your surroundings safe, and providing you with falls prevention information
- assessing your risk of falling and discussing the results with you
- developing and implementing a care plan suited to your needs (your risk of falling will be reviewed regularly)
- organising other health professionals to manage the causes of you being at risk of falling
- Everyone has a role to play in preventing falls.
What can you do?
- Wear comfortable clothing that is not too long or loose. Whenever you are up and about, wear comfortable, low-heeled and nonslip shoes that fit you well, rather than slippers.
- Take your time when getting up from sitting or lying down.
- If you have your walking aid, make sure it is in good condition and that you use it rather than using furniture or walls for balance
- Use your call bell when you require assistance, especially for going to the bathroom, and keep the call bell in easy reach.
- Let staff know if you feel unwell or unsteady on your feet.
- If staff recommend you need assistance or supervision when moving, please ask them for this assistance and wait until they come to help you.
- Look out for environmental hazards such as spills and clutter that may cause a fall, and tell staff about them promptly. If you have glasses, only wear your distance ones when walking.
- Take special care when using bifocal or multifocal glasses.
- Eat healthy and keep your fluid levels up, because dehydration can disorient you.
- Wear your hip protectors if you have them.
A recent surge of enquiries into the preventative health benefits of exercise in elderly residents has been generated by the growing percentage of seniors in the population. Some data is preliminary, but many important conclusions can be drawn that may positively affect the care and functional capacity of elderly residents. Exercise programs generally consist of four major components: strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.
Exercise programs for elderly residents have also received much attention recently for their potential role in preventing illness and injury, limiting functional loss, disability and alleviating the course and symptoms of existing cardiac, pulmonary, and metabolic disorders.
Being active can play an important part in both positive ageing and reducing frailty, helping to reduce the risk of falls. It can also help older people maintain their health, well-being, independence and social participation.
When people get older, their muscles deteriorate as a natural part of ageing. Weakened muscles are not strong enough to cope with everyday
tasks such as getting up from a chair or walking, and people’s balance can often be affected. Being active throughout life and especially in
older age can help to slow down the rate that muscles deteriorate. This can help older people remain active and independent as long as possible and also reduce the risk of falls.