Self Care Week 2017: Older People

Around 6,000 people a year in Leicester are admitted to hospital following a fall. Many of these falls are preventable.

Slips, trips and falls are more likely in winter. In older people they can have a significant impact on a person’s health and independence.

Travel carefully in icy weather:
Icy pavements and roads can be extremely slippery. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. If you are travelling by car, you should wait until the roads have been gritted.

Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.

Tips for preventing falls in the home all year round include:
• Mop up spillages straight away.
• Remove clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet.
• Use non-slip mats and rugs.

• Use high-wattage light bulbs in lamps and torches to see clearly.
• Get help to do things that you are unable to do safely on your own.
• Don’t walk on slippery floors in socks or tights.
• Don’t wear loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up.
• Wear well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle. In the house, wear slippers with a good grip.

• Some medications may have side effects that increase your chances of having a fall. If you have not had your medicines reviewed for more than a year, or you are concerned about how your medication is affecting you, contact your GP practice.
• Organise your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things.
• Take care of your feet by trimming toenails regularly, using moisturiser and seeing a GP or chiropodist about any foot problems.
• Regular exercises can improve your strength and balance and can help reduce your risk of having a fall (see page 14 for advice on being active).
If you are concerned that poor vision is increasing your risk of having a fall, make an appointment to have a sight test. If you wear glasses, make sure you clean them every day.
• Drinking alcohol can lead to loss of co-ordination and exaggerate the effects of some medicines. This can significantly increase the risk of a fall, particularly in older people. Avoiding alcohol or reducing the amount you drink can help reduce your chances of having a fall.

Falls Prevention Video – Useful animation about how to avoid slips and falls this winter

How cold weather can effect older people – Useful video about winter and complications for older people

Staying fit and healthy video – Information on how to stay fit and healthy this winter


Home hazard assessment
You can request a home hazard assessment if you are concerned that you or a relative may be at risk of having a fa ll, or if you know someone who has recently had a fall.
The assessment will involve a healthcare professional with experience in falls prevention visiting your or your relative’s home to identify potential hazards and giving advice about 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.
The person who carries out the assessment may also recommend getting a personal alarm system so that
you or your relative can signal for help in the event of a fall. An alternative would be to keep a mobile phone in close reach so it is possible to phone for help after having a fall.