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Falls prevention

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Falls and their related injuries are a common and serious problem for older people. People aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling.  Having a fall can cause, pain, injury, loss of confidence and can be fatal.

Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year and can have an impact on quality of life, health and healthcare costs.1

Where do people fall?

The majority of falls in older people in Wiltshire happen in the home, but can also happen outside, especially in icy conditions.

Who is at risk?

There are some people who are more at risk of falling, including:

  • Those with arthritis or osteoporosis.
  • Those with vision problems
  • Those on certain types of medication or who have not had their medication reviewed for a while
  • Those with poor diet and / or low levels of exercise

What you can do to prevent falls

There are a number of things you can do to prevent falls, if you remember to STOP and CARE:

S Stop for a few moments before you move.  This helps your balance and gives you time to move safely. Try not to hurry.
T Think about what you are doing. Do things the safest, easiest way.
O Be Observant and pay extra attention to your surroundings, both indoors and out. Look out for obstacles and hazards, especially if you can’t see very well.
P Plan how to remove or avoid hazards, especially in your own home or garden. Plan what you would do if you should fall or need help. By thinking ahead, you can improve safety. Warn your visitors about hazards in your home – for example steps between levels.
C Take Care of yourself. Take action to keep healthy. Eat a balanced diet. Have regular health, eye and hearing tests.
A Adapt your home. Simple adaptations like grab rails, a non-slip bath mat or a trolley can make life safer. Keep things you want within easy reach.
R Reduce risks by taking action to make your home safer. Get repairs done promptly. Mop up spills at once. Have good lighting, especially on stairs. Avoid doing very risky things, like standing on a chair to reach something.
E Exercise regularly as this improves health and fitness and reduces the risk of accidents. Walking and swimming are good forms of exercise. Most older people can do some form of gentle exercise, but if you are not sure how much ask your doctor what is right for you.

We provide strength and balance classes which can help you increase your exercise. More information and advice about falls is available at the Age UK website

What happens if I do fall?

If you have a fall, it is important to keep calm and remember what you need to do.

  • If you are not hurt and you feel strong enough to get up, do not 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 aid call button (if you have one).
  • If possible, crawl to a telephone and dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Try to reach something warm such as a blanket or a dressing gown 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.

NHS Choices has more information about falls.

1 From: NICE Guidance (2013): Falls: Assessment and Prevention of Falls in Older People.

2 From: Swindon Safe & Warm Helping you

Contact Details (LiveLink)

Multiple Contacts:
eMail: publichealth@wiltshire.gov.uk
Telephone:

0300 003 4566


Out of hours:
Fax:
Postal Address:

Public Health
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 8JN


In Person:
DX:

Last updated: 8 October 2013

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