One third of people over the age of 65 and half of those over 80 take a fall every year. But experts think up to 60 per cent of those falls could be predicted and prevented just with some easy adjustments to your home and lifestyle. This will not only give you some peace of mind, but could also stop falls building up to become a regular thing.
Dr Emma Stanmore, Lecturer at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Manchester shares her top ten tips for putting a stop to your loved one’s taking a trip.
- Build up strength and balance: the best way to make sure your friend or relative stays on their feet is to encourage them to keep their bones strong and their balance on point. Taking up an exercise class such as Tai Chi or a postural stability class can really help with this. It’s also a good way of building up your own strength to keep you safe later in life, so why not go to a class together?
You can look for your local Tai Chi instructor here. Look in your local library and on community notice boards for details of other local exercise classes too.
- Get an exercise programme: If your loved one hasn’t been very active in recent years or has a history of falls, ask them to see their GP or local physiotherapist for a prescribed exercise programme. They will be able to suggest exercises and activities that will work for them. This might include standing on one leg to improve balance or squatting to make leg muscles stronger
- Slash the sofa time: Try to encourage them to avoid sitting for long periods of time and instead get up and about doing some moderate activity for at least 10 minutes a day. Whether they take a little walk around the block or just do some gentle stretching this could make a real difference. Go on a walk with them or arrange to meet to have a stretch together if that might help.
- Request a home hazard assessment: Contact your GP or local authority to ask them to do a check on your loved one’s home to identify any trip hazards and changes you can make to reduce their risk of falls.
- Shoes, shoes, shoes: Get them to wear well-fitting shoes that are in good condition.
- Put to the back of the wardrobe any loose fitting clothing or long skirts and trousers that might trip them up.
- Watch the ice: At this time, footpaths can often by slippy or icy so long walks are best avoided, especially down paths that are unlikely to have been gritted. Go with them on a walk or offer to give them a lift to where they want to be.
- Keep up-to-date on sight tests: Poor vision can increase the risk of falling so head to the opiticians.
- Get a medication review in case of any of their medication may have side effects that increase the risk of falling.
- Try a hip protector: These reduce the risk of serious injury if they do fall, by lessening the impact and preventing possible hip fractures. For more information on Fall-Safe hip protectors, visit www.hips-protect.com.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.