Fall Prevention and Management

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 31 Mar, 2017
  • 20 Jan, 2016
    Author/blogger Reggie Simpson

How to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

I was recently in the United States for the holidays and ‘stumbled’ across an article entitled ‘Fear of Falling’, which highlighted that the medical costs of falling run more than 30 billion dollars a year. Famous fallers include former US president George H W Bush, aged 91, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, 68.

Closer to home, a number of our Betafeet Podiatry patients have reported a fall or falls and we have advised them about an excellent falls prevention and management service provided by the NHS in Hertfordshire (see website link at the end of this blog).

Regardless of age, we are all prone to falling or tripping unexpectedly, often causing severe foot, knee and back injuries and often other consequences such as sprained ankles, torn ligaments and abnormal movement of joints.  Statistics says that one in three older adults fall each year with resulting consequences such as broken bones, trouble getting around and a host of other health problems.  

The impact of falls

According to ageUK, about a third of all people aged over 65 fall each year, with higher rates among those over 75. Falls represent over half of hospital admissions for accidental injury, particularly hip fracture.  Half of those with hip fracture never regain their former level of function and one in five die within three months.  Of those older people who enter falls prevention programmes, most do so only after they have fallen, by which time they may have suffered serious consequences.

You can make small provisions to prevent falls and hence reduce the risk of associated injuries. Try the tips below:

  • Perform regular exercises to improve strength in your legs and back as well as to promote balance in your posture. Appropriate exercises can do wonders for your stance and whole body alignment, so make sure that you take some guidance before starting any exercise. Special balance training classes have been shown to be highly effective in reducing falls in older adults. You can also try yoga and Pilates!

  • Ensure that the medications you take are not making you dizzy, sleepy or drowsy. Ask your doctor or thoroughly read the medicine information sheet for any side effects that may affect your balance. Anti-allergies medications as well as those prescribed to asthmatics are frequently associated with drowsiness. Try to choose non-drowsy options to prevent falls.
  • Get your eyesight checked by an optometrist, at least, in every one to two years, more often if you are older. Poor eyesight leads to misjudgement of how close or far objects are and are one of the major causes of falls. Update your prescription glasses and contact lenses according to changes in your vision.
  • There are also key steps and changes that you can make at home to make it a safer place. Bathrooms are often slippery, so make sure you immediately dry them off with a sponge. Also, install grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower to make it easy to get out without getting misbalanced. Use non-slippery substances to clean tiles and flooring in your home and always keep unnecessary clutter out of the way that can lead to people tripping and falling.
  • When outside ensure that your footwear is the correct size and is not causing you any discomfort that may interfere with your balance. If you are experiencing any issues with your gait or foot stance, then consult a foot specialist as soon as possible to correct these issues.

Preventing falls is important to our health; the tips above are simple ways that you can prevent dangerous falls.

Local services in Hertfordshire

There is local support for Hertfordshire residents of any age to help manage oneself for falls. Please visit the following link for reference:

http://www.hertsdirect.org/services/healthsoc/healthherts/fallsprevention/

AgeUK also has some excellent advice on the subject for patients and practitioners alike:

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/professional-resources-home/services-and-practice/health-and-wellbeing/falls-prevention-resources/


By Judith Sullivan 09 Dec, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
By Judith Sullivan 28 Sep, 2017

We are delighted to announce that prose written by our Practice Business Manager, Reggie Simpson, will be featured in the Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Rhyme & Reason 2018 diary, now in its 26th year. The theme for this forthcoming year’s diary is ‘Freedom’. All proceeds from sales of the diary go to support this worthwhile charity.

Reggie says: ‘Although my entry wasn't among the top poetry and prize winners, I was chuffed to be selected for the 2018 diary. The theme was quite broad, but my degrees in politics and love of writing invariably drew me to entering the competition. In the end I settled on a focus of freedom in healthcare, no doubt inspired by my current employment at Betafeet Podiatry and the noble work of Rennie Grove Hospice Care ( www.renniegrove.org ).

Rennie Grove Hospice Care, formally known as Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, merged with Grove House, St Albans in 2010 to integrate services in south western Hertfordshire. The ethos and values of the two charities were closely aligned with the principle of allowing patients to lead a good quality of life at home for as long as possible, helping patients and their families avoid the distress of unnecessary hospital visits whenever possible.

The diaries can be ordered from the Rennie Grove website, payment by debit/credit card. It's part of their annual Christmas/holiday promotion. There will also be copies in local Rennie Grove shops. They are £5 each with additional postage if bought online. Shop locations can be found here: http://www.renniegrove.org/support/our-shops/online-shop/page/2/ .

Here is Reggie’s entry (to appear in the month of September 2018): 


‘Do not count the days; make the days count.’

Muhammad Ali. Professional Boxer.  Audacious. Charismatic. A winner in the ring.

But even when you have won it all, life throws you a few more punches.

Yes, his name opened doors and wealth, but the bombastic man of his younger years was humbled in later life, and following retirement, he dedicated himself increasingly to charitable work. Parkinson’s was already taking hold.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest honour the USA can bestow.   He died in June 2016, aged 74.

Now the news is about boxing helping dementia sufferers.

So what does this mean for freedom? Does getting battered around the head spell freedom and choice? One would say yes; a boxer is free to take such risks. When the consequences deal you a fatal blow as a result, when do you lose your freedom? Is it when you have been reduced to a shadow of your former self, a normal human being, and have to rely on others? Muhammad Ali likely had plenty of resources to ensure his final days would help him on his final journey.

We tend to think of freedom in political terms. It is hard to remove freedom in healthcare from politics. Think NHS reform, among others. Freedom in a healthcare environment means more to the individuals and families when they have life-limiting illnesses and need the care of volunteer-run hospices such as Iain Rennie Grove.

The NHS gives patients the rights to make choices about different aspects of the care they receive, from the different treatment options available. How these are chosen is individual, although for those with life threatening or limiting illnesses this choice will fall on family members. 

I quote the following:

‘In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties’.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Philosopher


September is World Alzheimer’s Month.

 

 

 

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