Are You At Risk Of Falling?
Falls are not an inevitable part of ageing. By being aware of the causes of falls and by looking after our health, and by seeking help early on, many falls can be prevented. There are many different reasons why people fall in their homes. Whether this is a medical condition or a health ailment such as poor eyesight or conditions within the house itself, like poor lighting; falls represent a major cause of injury and death among over 70s and account for more than 50% of hospital admissions for accidental injury. (Source: Age UK).
There are a great number of risk factors associated with falling. It is important that we try to identify and address falls risk factors.
Most falls are caused by the interaction of one or more risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Different health professionals can help to lower a person’s overall risk by reducing or minimizing certain risk factors. Many falls can be prevented by making simple changes to your home or making changes to your health and lifestyle.
To prevent falls, first focus on the modifiable risk factors listed below:
- Lower body weakness
- Difficulties with gait and balance (how you walk, move)
- Use of psychoactive medications
- Postural dizziness
- Poor vision
- Problems with feet and/or shoes
- Home hazards
- Falls Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) (For Health Professionals)
The Falls Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) is based on 4 risk factors including:
- History of falling in the previous year
- Four or more medications per day
- Balance and gait problems
- Postural hypotension (low blood pressure)
and can be viewed from HERE
Timed Get Up and Go Test
In October 2015 the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) launched a video to demonstrate the timed get up and go test, which helps to assess whether a person is at an increased risk of falls. The test can also be performed in your own home but only do so if you have a friend with you.
This is one way to assess a person’s falls risk, but it you’re concerned about falling, the CSP recommends you seek a full and comprehensive falls assessment from a qualified healthcare professional.
Falls Risk Assessment (Self-Administered Assessment)
(Taken from AgeUK Booklet – Your Falls-Free Plan).
Even if you have never had a fall or have fallen once and were not badly injured, consider these questions to avoid future falls.
- Have you had more than two falls in the last 6 months? (especially if you have hurt yourself, not been able to get up again and/or lost your confidence as a result of falling)
- Do you take four or more forms of medication daily?
- Do you have any difficulty walking or standing?
- Do you use a stick, walker, or hold on to furniture or other things when you walk?
- Do you have to use your arms to be able to stand up from a chair?
- Do you ever feel dizzy or light-headed, if, eg you get up or turn around too quickly?
- Has it been more than two years since you had your eyes tested?
- Has your hearing worsened with age, or do your family or friends say that you have a hearing problem?
- Do you usually exercise less than twice a week?
- Do you drink any alcoholic drinks daily?
- Do you have any long-term health conditions? Eg heart or lung problems, diabetes, high blood, pressure or arthritis.
The more ‘Yes’ answers you give, the greater your chance of having a fall.
Now read about how to REDUCE YOUR RISK.