Keeping People Over 65 safe
We are currently experiencing a demographic shift where we find people are living longer. In the UK by 2040, it is predicted that 1 in 4 people are over 65 years of age (The Health Foundation, 2019).
Our extra years of life are a gift that we should all be able to enjoy. For this reason it is essential that older adults are empowered to live safe, healthy and independent lives by keeping their homes accident free.
Thankfully, a majority of accidents in the home are avoidable when attention is paid to safety in the living environment and the promotion of safe behaviours in the home.
“Many of the non-fatal accidents for the over 65 age group are attributable wholly or in part to frailty and failing health. This can lead to failure or slowness to see and avoid risks. By drawing the attention of older people and their carers to danger spots and unsafe habits then accidents can be reduced (ROSPA, 2020).
The types of accidents that occur in the home:
Falls are on the rise, and we need your help.
Falls are the single biggest cause of accidental injuries in the home, and sadly the largest cause of accidental death among over-65s in the UK.
Falls have a huge impact on people’s lives – from physical injuries and death, long-term health effects and disabilities to trauma and poor mental health, loss of mobility, loneliness, social isolation and loss of independence. Falls also impact hugely on society, costing the NHS and wider healthcare systems over £4billion every year.
But the good news is… this doesn’t have to be the case. By empowering people of all ages with the understanding of why falls happen, who they affect, and what they can do to prevent them, we can all help prevent falls from happening.
What is a Fall Fighter?
A Fall Fighter is somebody who has learnt about falls and how to prevent them. They use the knowledge and skills they’ve learnt in the free-to-attend awareness session to educate and inspire others in their community.
How do I take part?
Anyone can become a Fall Fighter! Simply complete a short free-to-attend awareness session and you will be provided with the information you need to make a real difference. There are two simple routes to becoming a Fall Fighter:
As an individual you can attend a short e-learning session or 20-minute virtual classroom at a time to suit you – why not encourage friends or colleagues to sign up too?
Volunteers from organisations – workplaces, charities, community groups – can download a short self-led workshop to run with others, or download our SCORM compliant e-learning files to upload to your own e-learning system.
Once you have completed the session, you will be awarded a certificate and receive a digital toolkit to help you spread the word and inspire others.
Burns and Scalds
Burns and scalds are damage to the skin usually caused by heat. Both are treated in the same way.
A burn is caused by dry heat – by an iron or fire, for example. A scald is caused by something wet, such as hot water or steam.
Burns can be very painful and may cause:
- red or peeling skin
- white or charred skin
The amount of pain you feel is not always related to how serious the burn is. Even a very serious burn may be relatively painless.
Poisoning is when a person is exposed to a substance that can damage their health or endanger their life.
Most cases of poisoning happen at home, and children under 5 have the highest risk of accidental poisoning.
Signs and symptoms of poisoning
The symptoms of poisoning will depend on the type of poison and the amount taken in, but general things to look out for include:
- being sick
- stomach pains
- drowsiness and fainting fits
If a child suddenly develops these symptoms, they may have been poisoned, particularly if they’re drowsy and confused.
What to do
If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose or has been poisoned, do not try to treat them yourself. Get medical help immediately.
If they do not appear to be seriously ill, call NHS 111 for advice.
If they’re showing signs of being seriously ill, such as being sick, loss of consciousness, drowsiness or seizures (fits), call 999 to request an ambulance or take the person to your local A&E department.
In serious cases, it may be necessary for the person to stay in hospital for treatment. Most people admitted to hospital because of poisoning will survive.
Types of poisons
Poisons can be swallowed, absorbed through the skin, injected, inhaled or splashed into the eyes.
An overdose of medicine is the most common form of poisoning in the UK. This can include both over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol, and prescription medicines, such as antidepressants.
Other potential poisons include:
- household products, such as bleach
- cosmetic items, such as nail polish
- some types of plants and fungi
- certain types of household chemicals and pesticides
- carbon monoxide
- poorly prepared or cooked food, and food that’s gone mouldy or been contaminated with bacteria from raw meat (food poisoning)
- alcohol, if an excessive amount is consumed over a short period of time (alcohol poisoning)
- recreational drugs or substances
- medicines prescribed for pets
- Snakes and insects, such as wasps and bees, are not poisonous, but their bites or stings can contain venom (toxin).
There are several things you can do to reduce your or your child’s risk of poisoning.
These include carefully reading the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and making sure that any poisonous substances are locked away out of the sight and reach of your children.
Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature below 35C (normal body temperature is around 37C). It’s a medical emergency that needs to be treated in hospital.
Immediate action required:Go to A&E or call 999
if you think someone has hypothermia and they have any of these:
- pale, cold and dry skin – their skin and lips may be blue
- slurred speech
- slow breathing
- tiredness or confusion
A baby with hypothermia may be:
- cold to touch and their skin may be red
- unusually quiet and sleepy and may refuse to feed
What to do while you’re waiting for help
- move the person indoors or somewhere sheltered as quickly as possible
- remove any wet clothing, wrap them in a blanket, sleeping bag or dry towel, making sure their head is covered
- give them a warm non-alcoholic drink and some sugary food like chocolate if they’re fully awake
- keep them awake by talking to them until help arrives
- make sure you or someone else stays with them
- do not use a hot bath, hot water bottle or heat lamp to warm them up
- do not rub their arms, legs, feet or hands
- do not give them alcohol to drink
These will not help and could make things worse.