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 12 Jun, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
By Judith Sullivan 09 Jun, 2017
By Reggie Simpson published in large part in the summer edition of Tring Living
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