Why it’s important to prevent falls in the elderly

There are around 220,000 emergency hospital admissions each year in the UK related to falls in those over 65. Half of over-80s fall each year. Falls can result in a range of injuries from bruises to hip fractures. But there are other issues too. Falls can lead to the individual losing their confidence, reducing their mobility and experiencing a lower quality of life.

A fall or a fracture is the leading cause of elderly individuals moving into residential care, alongside deterioration in health.

The dangers of a ‘long-lie’

Unfortunately, if an elderly person falls, it can often be very difficult for them to get up unaided. Due to potential injuries, it is necessary to call an ambulance to assist. Whilst they come with the appropriate equipment and training, these ambulance calls are unfortunately not often highly prioritised. This means that the individual who has fallen can be left lying on the floor for quite some time. If this time exceeds 1 hour, it is called a long-lie.

Long-lies are associated with a number of problems. Not only is medical treatment delayed, but being left on the floor in this way can cause pressure injuries, hypothermia, pneumonia and dehydration.

Understandably, it’s therefore really important to us that we reduce the risk of elderly individuals falling in the first place.

How to reduce the risk of falls in the elderly

The NHS gives good general advice about minimising the risk of falls. As a provider of residential care in North Devon and Somerset, we are committed to reducing the chances of falls amongst our residents. There are a number of different approaches we take:

  • Keeping mobile and active: Those who keep mobile ensure their balance is better through greater muscle strength. As much as possible we keep our residents active, whether that’s through some gentle chair exercises or a stroll around our grounds.
  • Nutrition and hydration: It’s important to eat regularly and have plenty of energy. Additionally, it is vital that elderly people drink plenty. Eating and drinking well reduces the risk of light-headedness.
  • Eyesight and hearing: It’s vital that those at risk of falls have their eyes and ears tested regularly and new prescriptions given when needed.
  • Medication management: Certain medications can make people more light-headed or affect balance. It’s important that elderly people have regular medication reviews where these side effects can be monitored.
  • Bone health: Extra special care must be taken to support bone health in the elderly. This includes some gentle weight bearing exercises, but also ensuring a diet rich in calcium. Vitamin D, ideally from sunlight, should also help.
  • Good shoes: It’s crucial that elderly people, especially those with compromised mobility, have well-fitting shoes and slippers. In this way, trips are prevented. Shoes should be comfortable and supportive.
  • Make the environment safe: Of course, we also ensure that our homes are free from trip hazards. This is much harder to do in an individual’s private home, but in residential care this should be a clear part of the design of the home. Things such as rugs and wires should be removed and floors should be well lit.

Despite putting in place fall prevention methods, not all falls can be prevented. However, by choosing high quality residential care for your loved one, you can be sure that they will be well-cared for and the risk of falls will be reduced.

If you’re looking for a care home in Devon or Somerset then give us a call on 01769 573166.