As we age, we are more likely to experience fall-related injuries. The risk of falling can depend on health, medication or even the clothes we wear. While people of all ages can fall, it is when we grow older that injury can be more likely and more serious. But certain measures can help us decrease the potential injuries and improve balance.
Falls can be caused by many factors. Balance can be down to ear infections and health, or we can trip over due to issues with eyesight, badly fitting shoes and clothes or the environment, like wet floors. Frailty is part of our physical health and can be different for everyone depending on long-term health conditions or medication side effects.
It is the injuries and the consequences of falls that affect us most. If we have frail health it adds to the damage from falls. Not all falls cause serious damage, but it is possible to lead to broken bones, bad bruising and grazes.
If you have fallen, do not try to get up quickly. First, check you are not hurt. Roll on to your hands and knees, and look for a stable piece of furniture you can use to support yourself as you stand. If you are unable to get up yourself, call out for help, use your lifeline button (if you have one), or try to reach a phone and call 999 for an ambulance. If you need to wait for help to arrive, try and get into a comfortable position and change frequently. If you can, reach for a blanket or something to keep your body warm, especially your legs and feet.
When you know you are more likely to fall it can be distressing. This stress can contribute to losing balance and cause more damage by tensing your body unnecessarily when you think you might fall. Falling can make us lose confidence and start avoiding going out or feel as if we’re losing our independence.
There are two things you can do to prevent falls: Minimise obstacles that are likely to make you fall, such as clothing and furniture around your home, and strengthen your body. This can be done with balance and core exercises and eating a healthy diet.
Any injury from falls should be treated immediately.
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