Falls are the biggest cause of hospitalisation among older people. In fact, 30 per cent of over-65s and a staggering 50 per cent of those aged 80 or above will experience a fall within the next 12 months.
Falls aren’t usually life-threatening, and often, an elderly loved one will be able to get themselves up again. Sometimes, however, a fall can lead to broken bones, long stays in hospital and a loss of confidence.
It’s not unusual for relatives to worry about their elderly relatives suffering a fall. It’s distressing to think about a family member calling for help and not being there to support them.
Fortunately, there are steps that caregivers can take to keep their loved ones safe and reduce their risk of falling, as well as being able to raise the alarm if they can’t get up. Installing automatic fall detection devices is just one measure that can help to offer you peace of mind.
1. When to talk about fall prevention
It’s difficult knowing when to talk about fall prevention. Bringing up the subject too soon after an incident can discourage older relatives from revisiting the topic later on and waiting too long can leave them vulnerable to falls.
The best way forward is to start a conversation about their health and ask them how they feel. You and your elderly relative can then discuss any issues and see if falling is a possible concern. The chances are that if it’s worrying you, then it may be on your loved one’s mind too.
Falls are usually caused by a combination of age-related problems. Knowing what to look out for can give you a good indication of your loved one’s risk and help you bring up the subject at the right time.
Here are some common signs that a family member is at risk:
- Muscle weakness, balance or gait problems – As we get older, it’s not uncommon for us to lose strength and flexibility in our legs. This can affect our coordination and make it easier for us to fall over.
- Poor eyesight – With ageing, less light penetrates the eye, making it harder for older people to spot obstacles and trip hazards.
- Medication – Some medications can make the user feel sleepy or dizzy.
- Chronic conditions – Nearly 95 per cent of older adults have at least one chronic illness, and almost 80 per cent have two or more. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease or arthritis and can reduce the ability to be active and make them more susceptible to falls.
2. How to talk about fall prevention
How to talk about fall prevention
It’s not uncommon for caregivers and younger family members to feel uncomfortable talking about fall prevention. Many worry that broaching the subject will upset their elderly loved one and cause offence. The truth is, talking openly and frankly about fall prevention is often the best approach and can help you avoid “elderspeak”, engage your loved one in the discussion and make it easier for both of you to express your concerns.
The conversation might be difficult, because it means confronting fears that your parent or elderly relative is getting older. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from the subject. Talking about fall prevention sooner rather than later can make all the difference to your loved one’s future health.
Here are some conversation starters to help you break the ice:
“This isn’t easy, but I’m concerned about your safety.”
“I want you to live at home for as long as possible. How can I help you do that?”
“You don’t seem to be going out as often. Is there something worrying you?”
3. What can elderly people do to avoid falls?
There are lots of things that families and caregivers can do to help their elderly relatives stay healthy and live safely. Below are some of the simplest steps that you can take.
- Support their physical and mental health – Talk to your loved one about their health and consider speaking to their doctor. This will help you identify what sort of physical activities they should be doing to stay strong and if they should be using a mobility aid to get about. Ask your GP if your relative takes any drugs that increase their risk of falling over. You should also encourage your loved one to participate in their healthcare, as this will help them stay independent and understand the limitations of their own body.
- Make use of technology – Encourage older family members to keep their mobile phones nearby. This will stop them from rushing around the house when you call. If your elderly relative is comfortable using a smartphone, show them how to use apps like WhatsApp and Deliveroo. These are great for helping older people stay in touch with friends and family, keep their cupboards stocked and maintain independent living. Even if your elderly loved one isn’t tech-savvy, then a personal alarm service like ours can help them in the event of an emergency. A pendant alarm from our Care Hub Plus package comes with automatic fall detection technology and will send an alert even if the wearer falls unconscious or is unable to press the fall alarm button. This personal alarm linked to a mobile phone will mean you’re made aware of an incident as soon as it occurs. If you’re not available to check on your relative, a member of the SECOM monitoring team will assess the situation and alert the emergency services should they be required to attend.
- Make a post-fall care plan – When elderly people fall over, it’s not unusual for them to go into shock. You can help them prepare for accidents and stay calm by putting a plan in place. Important points to cover include cautioning against getting up straight away, keeping warm in the event of a serious fall and calling for help. Instruct them on how to activate the emergency button on their personal alarm too, so they remember that’s what it’s there for.
4. How to prevent falls at home
A lot of falls happen indoors, so fall-proofing your loved one’s home is key to reducing their chances of experiencing a fall. Taking a look around their home, or walking around with them, can help you spot any potential hazards and come up with a plan.
Here are three quick and easy ways to fall-proof an elderly relative’s home:
- Foot mats are useful for drying your feet at the door and making sure you don’t walk any mud or dirt into the house. However, some rugs, particularly those at the top of the stairs, can pose a serious trip hazard. Think about how useful a mat or rug is when touring your loved one’s home. If there’s no reason to keep it there, remove it straight away.
- A trip to the bathroom is one of the leading causes of a fall at night. Installing a night light in the bedroom, as well as on the landing, can make it a lot safer for your mum or dad to use the toilet.
- Tidying away clutter is critical to making your loved one’s home fall-proof. Use cable ties to keep wires out of the way, and avoid any rubbish from building up. Removing glassware or glass furniture is also a good idea as it can be harder for older people to see.
5. What to do if you’re worried about a loved one falling
If you’re anxious about a family member falling over, or the possibility of a fall affecting their confidence, then talk to someone as soon as you can. There are a number of preventative measures that you can take to protect them from falling, and a wide range of services that you can use to make sure they’re safe in the event of a fall.
Talk to your doctor
If you’re worried, talk to your doctor. They can perform a risk assessment and determine your elderly relative’s likelihood of experiencing a fall. If they decide they’re at risk, they can help you create an action plan.
Personal alarms come in many shapes and sizes, and are designed to help older people call for help if they suffer a fall or feel unwell. Our Care Go fall detection devices will give you the peace of mind that your loved one will not be left experiencing a ‘long lie’ after a fall, which can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.
Our personal alarm service is monitored 24 hours a day, and in the event of an emergency friends and family are immediately alerted, as well as the emergency services should they be required.
If you’re looking for a personal alarm, there’s a good chance you may qualify to avoid paying this tax. When shopping online, be sure to look for prices that exclude VAT or a supplier that advertises this lower price. It could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run.
To receive VAT relief, you must either have:
- A physical or mental condition that has a significant, long-term effect on your everyday life
- A condition that is regularly treated by a medical professional, such as diabetes
- A terminal illness
Save £5 off our fall alarm Care Hub Plus today while stocks last!