Fall Prevention in the Elderly: A Guide
How dangerous is a fall for an elderly person?
Falling in the elderly is a serious worry for most, especially if they are alone in the house or are very unwell. Falls in the elderly can be fatal and therefore are considered very dangerous so having a carer in place can help to reduce the risk of falling and make the outcome less serious. Falls in the elderly if not fatal can cause injuries such as hip fractures, head traumas and therefore can be very debilitating to the quality of life after an injury has occurred. It can take away that person’s independence, potentially leading to mental depletion and decreased morale.
An older person may not recover as well as a younger person may. Falls are nevertheless common, and although most do not end in a serious injury, it is recommended that preventative measures are put in place to minimise damage or potential long-term injury from a fall.
Causes of falls in the elderly
The cause of falls in the elderly can be from health problems such as bad balance, muscle weakness, poor eyesight, or a long-term health condition such as heart conditions, low blood pressure, or dementia. Factors that increase the likelihood of a fall may be:
- Slippery surfaces
- – Bad lighting
- – Electric cabling
- – Unsecured rugs and carpets
- – Badly organised storage areas
- – Crowded corridors
Other causes can be from outdoor work such as gardening, walking to or from the shops, or maintenance work. Wherever possible, someone should be on hand to support an elderly person with carrying out physical activity, such as changing lights, heavy lifting, fixing items. Any notable home hazards should be addressed and removed if possible.
What to do if an elderly person falls down
If an elderly person does fall, then it is important to try and assess how serious it is early on. Ask your loved one or relative if they are in pain, and do your best to make them comfortable. If they are in any way struggling, then either professional help in the form of a carer, or paramedic, may be needed. If it seems serious, call the emergency services on 999. Whilst examining them for injuries look for any bruises or bleeding and ask them if they are experiencing any pain, where the pain is located, and how severe it is.
Do not try to move a seriously hurt elderly person off the floor until an emergency service is there to help and move them correctly.
If they are not badly hurt and there is no need to call emergency services, then proceed to help lift them off the floor.
You can do this by:
- – Rolling them on their side, assisting them onto their hands and knees (put a blanket or towel on the floor if they have bad knees)
- – Placing a chair by the side of them and ask them to move their strongest leg forward and put their foot flat on the floor
- – Use the chair as support for their weight on the side (they look like they are in a lunging position)
- – Place another chair behind them and ask them to use their arms and legs to sit back into this chair
- – You can support them whilst they do this but if you are lifting them onto a chair make sure your back is upright
- – Once on the chair keep them seated there and call their doctor to tell them they have had a fall
How to prevent a fall in the home
To prevent a fall from happening to the elderly, some steps can take place and a falls prevention plan can be made. First, they may want to make an appointment with their doctor to go through any health problems that could be managed further or handled with better detail and focus. The GP can do a simple balance test to decide whether the person is at risk of a fall. They can also do a sight test and review the medication that is being used.
Steps that elderly people can take to help prevent a fall include moving their body through regular exercise to improve balance and flexibility and to try to use better shoes so they do not trip. Avoiding falls at home can mean immediately mopping up surfaces from spillages, removing clutter, using non-slip mats, and making sure all passages to the bathroom and upstairs are clear and well lit. Other things can range from not wearing loosely fit clothing to not walking around in socks.
There can also be a home hazard assessment done through the GP (or NHS). This will include a healthcare professional, who has experience in fall risk prevention, coming round and assessing the home that the elderly person lives in and any areas that they could identify as hazards. Fitting a personal alarm system is another way to care for the elderly at home so that if they do have a fall, the alarm can signal for someone to help.
If falls become a serious risk in the day to day life of a person, then elderly live-in care may be a serious consideration, as this is a simple way to ensure your relative will always have someone there, should they fall.
How can we help?
The Live in Care Company can help you make arrangements for elderly live-in care via an easy and straightforward process. We help you arrange support for any reason including an elderly relative and are very happy to be able to discuss all of the care options that are available to you.
Our team will be happy to speak to you and will take the time to help you understand your options fully before arranging elderly care at home.
To find out more about The Live in Care Company, our range of live-in care services and how we can help you, make an enquiry on our website, email [email protected] or give our friendly team a call at 0118 449 2373.
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For some older people experiencing mobililty issues or other health concerns, they may find that a fall could cause serious injury or damage. For those who live alone, falls can be more dangerous. This guide takes a closer look at falls, how they may happen, and steps to take to prevent a fall from causing serious injury.