One of the biggest challenges facing elderly people is the high risk of falls and falling. The World Health Organisation reports that approximately 28 to 35 per cent of people aged 65 and over will fall each year worldwide. For individuals older than 70, some 32 to 42 per cent will fall, accounting for 40 per cent of all injury related deaths. According to The World Health Organisation, falls are the underlying cause of 10 to 15 per cent of all emergency department visits (more than 50 per cent of injury-related hospitalisations due to falls are among people aged 65 years and older).
The Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare published a report on Hospitalisations due to falls by older people, Australia (2009-10). Author, Clare Bradley details just how frequently fall-related injuries occur in Australia. "The estimated number of hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 and over in 2009–10 was 83,800—more than 5,100 extra cases than in 2008–09." Women have proven to be at greater risk of falls. "Women accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and rates of fall cases were higher for women than for men for all age groups."
Trips and stumbles are more common than any of us could know. For the elderly, injuries incurred from a fall can leave them with painful and limited mobility, with a greater risk of arthritic disease and even death. Those who are at the highest risk for falling are individuals with balance, vision or cognitive impairment, or weakness in the lower extremities. Listed below are some key preventative measures we can all take to help prevent the likelihood of a fall. By limiting fall hazards, everyone can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine that beckons us outside.
- Stay aware of uneven terrain or slippery surfaces - watch for holes, tree roots and ice.
- Check the height of curbs and steps before stepping up on them or down from them.
- Wear correct eyewear when walking - reading glasses or bifocals can distort the ability to see potential hazards.
- Walk in well-lit areas in the evening to provide the most visibility for hazards.
- Keep your hands free, when possible – use a messenger or other over-the-shoulder bag should the need arise to break a fall.
- Wear sturdy, low-heeled shoes for better balance.
If you would like to find out how you can help prevent your loved ones from falling, give Right at Home Australia a call on 1300 362 609. For a comprehensive overview of all their aged care services, you can visit their website athttp://www.rightathome.com.au/.