DOCTOR CALLING: By Dr Kevin Hill
Falls represent more than half of all hospital admissions for accidental injury and can result in serious injury at any time in life, which is why South Lincolnshire CCG is offering some simple advice to people in order to reduce the risk of falling over.
“Falls are one of the most common accidents to happen in the home,” explains Dr Kevin Hill, GP and Chair of South Lincolnshire CCG. “As well as causing physical injury, they can also lead to a loss of confidence and independence, particularly in older people, so we want to do what we can to ensure that patients are given the support they need and are safe at home.”
There are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a fall, such as clearing hallways and rooms of clutter. Wearing supportive, well fitted footwear can also help, as can avoiding wearing loose fitting, trailing clothes. Having your bed at the right height, ensuring adequate lighting and making sure you are aware of any side effects of different medication can all reduce the risk of falling over too.
“Fortunately most falls do not result in serious injury, but it is vital to do everything possible, particularly to help elderly friends and relatives,” adds Dr Hill. “Sometimes it’s the obvious things that are most effective, like making sure spillages are mopped up and ensuring trailing wires and frayed carpets are tidied up.
“If possible organise your home to avoid any unnecessary stretching, bending or climbing, or at least keep them to a minimum. If you need help doing something you might struggle to do safely on your own, ask a friend, relative or neighbour for help.”
If wintery conditions are expected there are some common sense precautions that can be taken, such as wearing sturdy footwear with a good grip, using Nordic walking poles if you have them, allowing extra time to get from A to B, keeping a close eye on what conditions underfoot are like, looking out for neighbours, particularly those who are disabled or elderly, and, if you can, helping to spread grit on walkways and pavements.
For more information visit www.rospa.com/resources/hubs/winter/ or http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Falls/Pages/Introduction.aspx