For an older person, a fall can mean the difference between dependence and independence. There are many possible reasons for a fall:
- A trip caused by an unexpected obstacle – why did you leave that there?
- A trip caused by not seeing an obstacle – not wearing glasses, not enough light;
- A trip caused by a something likely to cause a trip – a rug or mat, frost, snow or ice, or a wet floor…
- A cardiac episode;
- A neurological episode, for example, a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA);
- Physical weakness -for example due to glucose levels or dehydration.
Sometimes a fall can be caused by a combination of these things. No matter what our age, we need to reduce the likelihood of a fall. We need to have some idea how likely a person is to fall and then understand the potential impact of that fall.
A young healthy person may be unlikely to fall, but even if they do, they will probably recover quickly, and there is a good chance there will be people around to support them. But an older person living alone, perhaps with poor eyesight, who has a fall and perhaps breaks a hip (which is much more likely with ageing bones than young bones), may no longer be able to live at home if they cannot go to the toilet themselves or get food themselves.
So, for yourself or someone you care for:
- Assess the environment – remove potential trip hazards, ensure there is plenty of light (check out the smart home page Making it Easier to Get Home From Hospital for information on remote control lights);
- Assess how frail is the person at risk of a fall and consider the potential impact of a serious fall.
If you think a person is in the RED category above then invest in special measures – do everything you do to reduce the risk of a fall without impinging on quality of life.
Devices that can tell a lot about a fall…….
Devices that tell you where someone is if they have had a fall…
Devices that warn that someone is heading for a fall…