It can be difficult to accept that everyday chores and activities, such as getting up from bed, getting into a bath, getting dressed and going down the stairs to prepare coffee may become increasingly challenging and even risk falls as we become older.
Many older adults are at risk of having falls at home due to an environment that no longer accommodates their needs. These needs could be physical, due to chronic medical conditions, muscle weakness and compromised balance. The emotional aspects should also be considered as some people become so fearful of falling that they restrict themselves from doing everyday things and slowly lose their independence.
Working with many older adults in a hospital setting I’m often faced with people’s innate resistance to make small changes, which could prevent huge accidents. Patients will often describe unsafe ways of doing things or will say they have stopped doing something all together. When questioned, they will respond that they have been doing things in a certain way for years and changing old habits is difficult.
A useful way to change one’s mind in this regard is to provide some facts and statistics such as:
- Falls are a major cause of disability and the leading cause of mortality due to injury in older people aged over 75 in the UK.
- Every year, over 400,000 older people in England attend A&E Departments following a fall.
- Fear of falling can provide a significant limitation on daily activities. The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent functioning.
- Most falls for people 65 and older occur in the home during everyday activities.
If you are one of these people or if your loved ones are in this position you should do whatever you can to minimise the risks of falls at home.
The Physiotherapy Department at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth would be delighted to help. Simply call 020 7404 6343.