The manager of Leonard Cohen announced that the cause of the singer-songwriters death was due to a fall, which led to him passing away in his sleep.
Our population is steadily living longer and longer, and falls are a common cause of hospital admissions in later life. Not only can they result in bruises, breaks and a knock in confidence, falling is actually the leading cause of accidental cause of death in the elderly.
Falls can be dangerous due to a variety of short and long term risks.Short term, falls that involve trauma to the head can cause life-threatening bleeding. Broken bones have their own risk decreasing mobility and, depending on the area of the break, lung embolisms in which tiny fragments of broken bone make their way into our circulation and reach the lung, causing impressive and often life-threatening damage. But falls that cause broken hips and legs can cause death and disability even well after the acute phase. Blood clots to the lung are more likely in the months after surgery or prolonged periods of immobilization. People who become more sedentary are more likely to develop other problems such as heart and lung disease.
Thankfully, there are many precautions you can take to reduce the risk of falls:
- immediately mopping up spillages
- removing clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
- using non-slip mats and rugs
- using high-wattage light bulbs in lamps and torches, so you can see clearly
- organising your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
- getting help to do things that you’re unable to do safely on your own
- not walking on slippery floors in socks or tights
- not wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
- wearing well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle – two great shoe brands are Cosyfeet and Sandpiper, stocked at Home Care Preferred.
- Taking care of your feet by trimming your toenails regularly and seeing a GP or chiropodist about any foot problems – if you would like more information about recommended chiropodists in the local area please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with recommendations.
- Doing regular strength exercises and balance exercises can improve your strength and balance, and reduce your risk of having a fall. This can take the form of simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes. Many community centres offer specialist training programmes for older people. Take a look at our list of later life exercise classes offered here
- If you’re taking long-term medication, your GP should review your medicines at least once a year to make sure they’re still right for you. It’s particularly important that your medicines are reviewed if you’re taking four or more medicines a day.Your GP may recommend alternative medication or lower doses if they feel the side effects increase your chances of having a fall. In some cases, it may be possible for the medication to be stopped.See your GP or practice nurse if you haven’t had your medicines reviewed for more than a year, or if you’re concerned that the medications you or a relative are taking may increase the risk of falling.
- You should make an appointment to have a sight test if you’re concerned that poor vision (even when wearing glasses) is increasing your risk of having a fall.
- You can request a home hazard assessment if you’re concerned that you or a relative may be at risk of having a fall, or if you know someone who has recently had a fall.As well as identifying potential hazards, the aim of a home hazard assessment is to explore how a person’s actual use of the environment affects their risk of falling.Home Care Preferred offer this service. Our experienced team will visit you or your relative’s home to identify potential hazards and advise on how to deal with them.For example, as the bathroom is a common place where falls occur, many older people can benefit from having bars fitted to the inside of their bath to make it easier for them to get in and out. Once this has been established Home Care Preferred can source and fit the required equipment.We also stock and fit personal alarms. These are reassuring and beneficial as you or your relative can signal for help in the event of a fall.
Some older people may be reluctant to seek help and advice from their GP and other support services about preventing falls, because they believe their concerns won’t be taken seriously. However, all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person’s health.
Discuss any falls you’ve had with your GP and say if it’s had any impact on your health and wellbeing. Your GP can carry out some simple balance tests to check whether you’re at an increased risk of falling in the future. They can also refer you to useful services in your local area.
If you have any questions or would like further information on the services listed above that Home Care Preferred can offer, please get in touch to speak to a member of our qualified, friendly team.