Throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, a growing concern has been the ‘hidden costs’ associated with living through a pandemic.
From increased mental health problems, to missed appointments, the virus has impacted our lives in many indirect ways.
One example is the risk of unreported fall accidents during or following lockdown restrictions – which are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in adults aged 65+.
As COVID-19 has required many older or vulnerable adults to shield within their homes for a long time, lockdown restrictions may have exposed many older adults to more fall risk factors, such as; inactivity, social isolation and anxiety.
What can we do about it?
Adults in Wirral who are starting to lose confidence in walking outdoors can access the Falls Prevention Service, Medequip UK, for a range of support including advice on how to prevent a fall, equipment that can help and exercise programmes for balance and strength.
Julie Griffiths, Manager of Wirral’s Falls Prevention Service, said: “Lockdown has affected many people’s outdoor walking abilities. Locally, we are finding that people are saying their legs don’t feel as strong as they did before lockdown, or they tire more easily than they did previously, which is affecting their confidence too.
“Rather than suffer in silence, we want people to contact us for advice and at-home exercise programmes to restore their strength and balance while building stamina and walking ability. Just a few small changes can make a big difference and help you stay independent and safe.”
What does Falls Prevention look like?
We spoke to Sheila, a Wirral resident from Prenton, who has been supported by the service, about her experience and why she’d encourage anybody who has been impacted by lockdown to take up the offer of Falls Prevention support…
Question: How did you hear about the Falls Prevention Service?
Sheila: “My husband was supported by the team for a few years before he sadly passed away this year. They provided us with grab rails, a shower seat and a walker to help with his mobility which was a godsend.
“Over the years, I suffered with arthritis and became less mobile. The service signed all of the extra equipment in our home over to my care plan so I could continue using it without a hitch.”
Question: What has the service done for you?
Sheila: “Alongside all the equipment, Medequip also gave me a lot of support with falls prevention training and an exercise plan which I can do at home – when I remember! This enables me to continue getting out and about, when I can.”
Question: Has lockdown impacted your progress/mobility?
Sheila: “Yes, I think it has for a lot of people. Before lockdown I was going to Tai Chi regularly and enjoyed the social element as well as the physical. I also went out for a walk 3-4 times a week when I had the energy. Lockdown affected that a lot and it did knock my confidence too.”
Question: How do you feel now (after the support)?
Sheila: “I am just so grateful for the support; it has really helped me to stay independent and keep living in my own home. I feel very well supported by the team and my own family/support network. And I find it much easier moving around the house - much safer.
“My confidence has improved a bit too. Yesterday I went over to Liverpool on the train for a few bits, I was out for around four hours – I was shattered at the end of it but I’d done it!”
Question: Would you recommend it to anyone else?
“Yes, I would recommend it to anybody, even if you’ve not had a fall but aren’t as mobile as you used to be. It can be a great help and enable you to stay mobile. I’d give the service five stars!”
If you would like advice on how to reduce your risk of falling and are interested in exercises to improve your balance and strength, please contact the Falls Prevention Service on 0151 541 7709.