Falls and fall-related injuries are a common and serious problem for older people. People aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling, with 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 falling at least once a year.
The human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and mortality. Falling also affects the family members and carers of people who fall. Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year. Therefore falling has an impact on quality of life, health and healthcare costs. (NICE Guidance, 2013)
There are many simple things an individual can do to reduce the risk of falling:
- Strength and balance training – regular exercise helps to improve strength and balance. This can range from simple activities such as walking, dancing and gardening to specialist training programmes.
- Healthy bones – the strength of bones can make a difference to the effect of a fall. Regular physical activity and eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help to keep bones strong. Osteoporosis is common particularly in older women but keeping bones healthy can help to avoid this problem.
- Sight tests – vision plays an important role in balance and movement. Eyesight should be checked regularly, at least every two years.
- Medication review – some medicines have side effects such as dizziness which can increase the chance of falling. A medication review with a GP should be carried out on a yearly basis.
- Foot care – regular foot care checkups are important as foot problems can have a major affect on mobility, balance and stability.
- Home safety – simple everyday measures around the home such as mopping up spillages, using non-slip mats and removing clutter can all help prevent falls.
Good Neighbours: Falls Prevention
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