Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion every year. Each year, more than one in three people aged over 65 suffers a fall that can result in serious injury or even death.
Falls Prevention Awareness Week, taking place from 23rd - 29th September, is an international event raising awareness on how to prevention falls and fall-related injuries. At the heart of this initiative is the message that falls are preventable.
Wirral's Falls Prevention Service, Medequip, provides support, information and falls prevention workshops to people at risk of injury by falling and their friends and relatives. Ahead of FPA Week 2019, they've shared their top tips to staying on your feet!
1. Stay Active – Keep Moving
Maintaining mobility and balance can dramatically reduce your risk of falls. If you're able, focus on activities that strengthen your legs and challenge your balance like gardening, dancing, brisk walking, tai chi, or chair based exercises. Starting a regular exercise routine can be challenging but it is never too late to start - even forming a habit of 10 minutes a day can improve your overall health and balance.
2. Keep Well - attend your appointments, take your medication and communicate any worries with your GP.
Keeping well can mean many things including:
- Making sure you have regular eye and hearing checks: As you get older, your eyesight and hearing can change - regular check ups can enable you to live with these changes. If you're worried about your eyesight and are a smoker, reducing your intake is advised as smoking can increase the risk of cataracts.
- Eating well and drinking adequate fluids: Eating a well-balanced and varied diet rich in vitamins is recommended to keep bones and muscles healthy and fit. This will reduce your risk of falls. It may also be useful to limit alcohol intake as it can take longer to leave your system as you get older.
- If you ever feel dizzy or faint when getting up from your bed or chair: ask your GP or Pharmacist to check your prescription or perform a standing blood pressure check.
3. Stay Safe - is your home safe and well lit?
Look out for things that could cause you to trip or slip e.g. trailing wires, clutter, rugs, loose or frayed carpet. Either remove them or make them safe and tidy. Avoid standing on stools or chairs.
4. Take. Your. Time.
When getting up out of bed or from a chair sit up straight, take some deep breaths, move your feet up and down to pump the circulation in your calf muscles before standing – this will help to prevent dizziness. Try not to rush to the front door or telephone – if it is important they will wait or call back.
5. Look after your feet!
Make sure your slippers or shoes are well fitting around your ankle and are not loose or backless. They should have a thin sole and a good grip. Keeping your feet clean and your toenails short can prevent infection and injury.
Contact Wirral's Falls Prevention Service if you would like any further advice about preventing falls or wish to attend an exercise programme to improve your leg strength and balance. Call 0151 541 7709 for a chat with an advisor.