Falls are a major health issue in our community, with around 1 in 3 adults aged over 65 years experiencing at least one fall per year. In Queensland, 36 older people are admitted to hospital due to falls every single day, yet many falls can be prevented.
As part of Queensland Health’s April No Falls campaign, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health is promoting its comprehensive falls prevention strategy, developed by the Falls Nurse Navigator.
Janelle Trinder, Falls Nurse Navigator, says fall prevention is relevant across the ages, and by staying healthy and preventing chronic disease. Everyone can join the call to prevent and minimise harm from falls.
“Falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and there are a number of positive steps people can take to remain active, independent and on their feet,” Ms Trinder said.
“For many older people, factors such as a fear of falling, inadequate supports in the home and reduced activity levels can greatly affect quality of life”
“SCHHS has developed a comprehensive falls prevention and management for adult’s procedure. The procedure provides local guidelines for staff in order to reduce the incidence of falls and the harm resulting from falls for all adults, with particular emphasis on risks prevalent in adults aged over 65 years and Indigenous Australians aged over 50 years,” Ms Trinder said.
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Senior Staff Specialist, Emergency Department, Dr Ogilvie Thom agrees that many people don’t realise the potential hazards around their homes, and urges the community to keep themselves safe.
Rising falls injuries and presentations to Emergency Departments are ‘mostly preventable’,
“Falls occur most commonly around the home, and families and individuals can do a lot to help prevent people being hurt this way, through care and planning.”
Dr Thom said home falls could be prevented in a number of ways, including:
- if you are over 65 ladders must only be used when its safe, try and use a ‘spotter’ / another person to help with the task
- make your home safer by removing mats, cords and other trip hazards
- install grab rails in bathrooms and handrails on stairs
- choosing the right footwear for various activities
- have your medication reviewed regularly
- install adequate lighting throughout your home.
Falls among the older community are costly not only personally to those who fall, but financially across many healthcare sectors. Falls are one of the most avoidable causes of injury related hospitalisations, contribute to increased utilisation of residential aged care and account for 40 per cent of injury related deaths. Hospital data for Queensland shows fall related injuries among 65 years and over was estimated to be $118.9 million.
Tips on what you can do to prevent falls:
- Some medications can increase your chances of experiencing a falls related injury. It’s important to regularly review your medications with your treating doctor.
- Regular exercise targeting strength and balance helps to prevent falls.
- Eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water can ensure that your body is correctly hydrated and has the right amount of nutrients to sustain a healthy lifestyle and healthy bones to prevent serious injury from falls. Make an appointment with your local dietitian for more information and assessment.
- Complete a home safety assessment with an Occupational Therapist or by using the home safety checklist on the Queensland Health Stay on your Feet website.
- If you have other chronic health conditions understand the risks these can have on falls and have regular reviews with your treating doctor.
- Spend some time outdoors; this can boost your energy levels, improve your mood, and boost your vitamin D intake.