What should you know about falls?
Falls are the leading cause of mortality in people aged over 75 in the UK. Falls have increased in Bracknell Forest over the last 5 years. Around 10-25% of people who have a fall will suffer a serious injury – such as a hip fracture.
Falls risk increases with age and can be caused by both internal and external factors. Internal factors are to do with the person, for example advanced age, previous fall history, muscle weakness or presence of a chronic condition such as arthritis. External factors are to do with the person’s environment, such as trip hazards, no stair rail, dim lighting, slippery surfaces and psychoactive medication.
What can you do to improve your care?
Assess your risk if you have not had a fall before
It’s important for everyone over the age of 65 to be assessing their own risk of a fall. Risk factors include:
- Balance and gait problems
- Visual impairment
- Postural hypertension (increased blood pressure leading to dizziness)
- Alcohol consumption
- Impaired cognition
- Home hazards
It isn’t just your body that determines a fall, your environment matters too. Whatever your age slippery surfaces, trip hazards and unsafe stairs can lead to a fall. Ensuring that your home is free from these hazards or measures are taken to reduce risk can make moving around the house easier, safer and more comfortable.
Age UK offer a 'make your home falls-free' assessment that can be undertaken by anybody. The assessment consists of a checklist of hazards in the home and gives you tips on how you can fix the problem and make your home safer.
Assess your risk if you have had a fall before
If you have had a fall before then a Falls Prevention Assessment Clinic is held at the Assessment and Rehabilitation Clinic at the Healthspace, Brants Bridge, Bracknell. This is a referral only clinic. If necessary you can then be referred onto the local Positive Steps Programme. This is a 6 week programme of exercises, balance and strength training as well as education on how to lower your risk of future falls. For more information please visit the Council webpage.
If you are a regular faller or have a high risk of falling Bracknell Forest Forestcare offer personal alarm systems that link to a help centre 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and alert the centre of a fall. The alarm will activate an automatic call to the control centre. A representative from Forestcare will visit your home and tend to you and ensure that you receive the correct treatment post-fall.
A keysafe can also be installed in a discreet position around your house to enable a member of Forestcare to gain access to your house if you are unable to move after a fall.
Price lists for both of these can be found on the Forestcare website.
Forestcare are currently offering a 12 week free trial of the lifeline alarm for anyone living in Bracknell Forest. This offer is available to new customers who take out a lifeline before 31 December 2014. For more information please call the Forestcare team on 01344 786 500.
Look after your eyesight
Looking after your eyesight can help prevent a fall. If you can’t see where the bottom stair is, it can become a larger hazard. It is therefore recommended that you have regular eye exams. Eye exams are free for people over 60 and those diagnoses with diabetes or glaucoma (Full list of who qualifies for a free eye exam here). A list of places to have an eye exam are listed below.
Undertake regular exercise
Anything that makes you stronger is beneficial. Exercise is a great way to improve strength and prevent a fall. The largest benefits can be achieved through strength and balance training or exercise. Click on the links below for exercise plans. These exercises can be done at home or in a sports centre:
Facing up to falls shows the main factors that put a person at risk from a fall and how to avoid these risks.
How to get up safely from a fall shows the most practical way of getting up safely from the floor if you do have a fall.
Make your home ‘falls-free’- reducing hazards in the home.
Your ‘falls-free’ plan- caring for yourself in order to reduce your risk of a fall.
Contact details for local services
Bracknell Falls Prevention Assessment Clinic
Tel: 01344 351500
Forestcare and Emergency Response
Tel: 01344 786500
Age UK Berkshire
Tel: 01189 594242
21a Princess Square,
Tel: 0845 125 3758
Specsavers Opticians Bracknell
18 Princess Square
Tel: 01344 303344
Tesco Opticians, Sandhurst
Tel: 0845 601 3479