Fighting the fear of falling among older people

NHS REFRESH
Many of us have been afraid of falling at some point – perhaps when walking on an icy path or negotiating steps covered in wet, slippery leaves. But imagine what it’s like to live with that fear all the time. To feel unable to go out of the house or maybe even walk upstairs. To worry that you could fall while alone and be unable to get up, perhaps for hours.

A lasting fear of falling can have a huge impact on a person’s life. It can often make people opt to stay indoors and stop doing things they enjoy. It can leave people feeling isolated and afraid. For relatives, the worry that a loved one may fall can create ongoing anxiety.

Did you know that around one in three people aged 65 and over fall each year? Or that falls are a major cause of injury and death among the over-70s and account for more than 50% of hospital admissions for accidental injury?*

Sadly, there’s no ‘magic wand’ to get rid of falls among older people – but there are certainly measures people can take to avoid falling, and make it easier to alert someone if they do.

So – what can help?

Exercise – gentle exercise classes designed to improve strength and balance have been shown to help people lower their risk of falling by up to 55%.*

Changes in the home – Better lighting can help, as can making changes to the living environment such as installing grab rails, e.g. in the bathroom.

Mobility aids and equipment – these can range from sticks and walking frames to specialised beds and chairs to help people with more severe mobility difficulties.

Alarms and sensors – known collectively as ‘telecare’, this is includes small personal alarms that can be worn around the neck, pendant-style, and sensors that can be installed in the home which can send an alert to a central response team if someone falls.

Support to regain independence after a fall – ‘reablement’ is the name for short-term support from professionally trained staff to help you get back to your daily routine. Call Adult Social Care’s customer services on 0113 222 4401 for a confidential chat about eligibility.

We recently spoke to Patricia, 78, from Gledhow about how some of these types of support have helped her regain confidence to go out. Read her story here.

For information about the community falls service visit: www.leedscommunityhealthcare.nhs.uk/falls

For information on any of the types of support mentioned in this article call Adult Social Care on 0113 222 4401 or 0113 222 4410 (textphone).

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*Statistics from Age UK

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
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