Aged Care at home: Preventing Falls

Article 2 of 3

preventing falls for aged care at home

Regular exercise is the single most important falls preventative strategy

In the first article on this topic we pointed out that in our “ageing society” the incidence of falls among older people is rapidly becoming a global health issue.

In WA, the department of health has found that falls are the second most common cause of injury requiring hospitalisation (31%) and the fourth most common cause of death(11%)1.

Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone, but they are more common and more significant as we get older, because we are more likely to injure ourselves.

As can be expected, with ageing there is a decline in components of our balance system. Nevertheless, this decline is relatively small on its own. In other words, it’s a combination of this decline plus other risk factors that result in an increased likelihood of a fall. Further, a person’s risk of falling increases as the number of risk factors accumulates.

Risk Factors

Falls are commonly due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors. Intrinsic factors include any that are related to a person’s condition or behaviour whilst the extrinsic factors are those that relate to the person’s environment or their interaction with their environment.

Intrinsic risk factors2Extrinsic risk factors2
increased ageinappropriate footwear
history of fallsinappropriate spectacles
gender – being femalehazards inside and outside the home
chronic medical conditionslack of aids in home (such as grab bars)
multiple medication uselack of social interaction
vitamin & mineral deficiencylack of access to preventative medicine and programs
impaired balance and mobilityextreme weather
impaired vision
impaired cognition
lack of exercise
fear of falling
incontinence
alcohol misuse

 

Reducing the Risks

Many people may not see falls as an important issue because they feel it is just a ‘sign’ of getting older and that it will happen anyway. But the fact is that most falls are caused by personal issues – something to do with a person’s lifestyle, physical or mental state – or by interaction between one or more of these personal issues and an environmental hazard. Today, research is increasingly showing that prevention interventions can reduce falls.

Nine steps to stay on your feet®3

In WA, the “Stay on Your Feet” program has suggested a 9 step approach to help you or your ageing relative stay on their feet. The nine steps reflect the main factors that contribute to falls which are as follows:

 Step 1: Be active

Step 2: Manage your medicines

Step 3: Manage your health

Step 4: Improve your balance

Step 5: Walk tall

Step 6: Foot care and safe footwear

Step 7: Regularly check your eyesight

Step 8: Eat well for life

Step 9: Identify, remove and report hazards

 We urge all our clients to review the “Nine Steps to Stay On Your Feet®” focussing firstly on those parts that relate to them, to their lifestyle, independence and environment.

Resources and guides are readily available from the Stay On Your Feet® council of WA or you can contact us at Platinum Healthcare to see how this can be built into our home and community care programs.

To read the other articles in this series click Impact of Falls,

Sources:

1.      Department of Health, Western Australia. Falls Prevention Model of Care. Perth: Health Strategy and Networks, Department of Health, Western Australian; 2014

2.      Risk factors adapted from: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care,http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Guidelines-COMM.pdf

3.      Department of Health, Western Australia. Stay on your feet®. www.stayonyourfeet.com.au