Falls are an inevitable part of the ageing process, right? Wrong! While the chances of experiencing a fall do increase as you get older, falling is quite preventable - provided the correct elements are in place to support you in moving around your environment safely.
Contrary to popular belief, falling is also not something that only affects the older generation. In fact, 30% of people over 65 fall each year - many of whom are fit and healthy. Having dementia does mean that you may be more at risk of falling but there are ways in which you can address the risk to minimise the chances of it happening.
Why do people fall?
Falling over is not exclusive to the elderly - we all take a tumble from time to time. Fortunately, it’s rarely more than our pride that we hurt. However, as our bodies age, our bones and muscles become more delicate and yes, more prone to injury. Being older can mean that it’s harder to get back on your feet again, literally and metaphorically - so keeping yourself and your loved ones safe is important.
Even if you feel pretty steady on your pins, it’s worth looking through some of the risk factors that can increase the chances of having a fall.
The older we get, the more we accumulate. Living with dementia, it’s often comforting and useful to have familiar bits and pieces around you. Where possible, try to keep them neatly on tables, rather than on the floor where they can get in the way and be tripped over. If you need support on how to broach a tidy-up with a loved one, give our Wayfinding Team a call.
Reviewing your medication with a GP frequently is important. Medication used to treat dementia needs to be regularly updated to make sure it’s offering the right support and not causing too many side effects.
Getting up for the loo at night and roaming about in the dark isn’t recommended. Sleep can make us disorientated and poor lighting doesn’t help. Try to make sure you switch on the lights so you can find your way more easily. Alternatively, nightlights and one touch lamps may be beneficial.
Eating and drinking enough is vital to our physical and mental well-being. Our bodies need proper hydration and nutrition to function - too little and we become weak and more prone to falling.
Feeling too hot or too cold can sometimes result in falls. Whether our muscles cramp due to cold, or we become dizzy in the heat - keeping a consistent temperature at home is advisable.
Drinking too much can make anyone dizzy. Overdoing it can both increase the risk of falling and be harmful to someone living with dementia for other reasons - such as, increasing confusion or interaction with prescribed medication.
How to prevent falls
By minimising the risk factors above, you significantly reduce your chances of falling.
We all want to stay independent for as long as possible. Here are some other ways you can ensure you remain physically robust enough to maintain your lifestyle at home, or in your home environment.
Strength training and gentle exercise. Visit our timetable to see what group activities we have at Sage House for keeping fit
Balancing workouts, such as yoga or pilates
Move more slowly. When we rush, accidents are more likely to happen
Make sure you have regular hearing and eyesight tests as issues here can cause loss of balance
Consider using technology to support you at home. New ‘wearable tech’ is being produced all the time that can help people remain independent at home - for example, sensor bracelets that can alert someone if you fall.
So, while falling can have more long-reaching effects as we age, it is not an inevitable part of the ageing process. Dementia does increase the risk of falling but by following a few basic rules and keeping as fit as possible, falls are largely preventable. For more advice on how to stay safe at home, please speak to our Wayfinding Team on 01243 888691.