Don’t let the fear of falling keep you trapped indoors, urge older peoples’ charities

Older people who remain trapped in their homes because of their fear of falling, are being urged to seek advice as falls should not be an inevitable part of growing older. This is the message going out across Wales as part of Falls Awareness Week, starting 24 February 2020, which is a joint initiative involving the three older peoples’ charities Age Connects Wales, Age Cymru and Care & Repair Cymru.

The partnership is urging older people aged 65+ to consider their falls risks and seek advice if they have a fear of falling,

Care&  Repair Cymru’s Neil Williams who chairs a national taskforce on falls says:  “A fall can have a devastating effect on an older person’s quality of life.  Many lose the confidence to get out of their home and instead live a sedentary life with little or no contact with their community. At the same time their muscles and bones can become weaker which can increase the likelihood of a further fall.

“It is therefore crucial that older people become aware of the measures they can take to help prevent falls. There is a lot of help out there from making homes safer to improving core strength and balance so we would urge older people to engage with the campaign and learn how to make themselves more resilient to falls.”

The campaign has issued a Falls Risk list that highlights a number of key areas that can lead to a fall and how older people can address these risks. It advises those who use four or more medications to seek a medication review from their pharmacist, while those sensing a deterioration in their eyesight should book an eye examination to help them see potential obstacles. It cites urinary infections, low blood pressure, and incontinence as medical conditions that can increase the likelihood of a fall should they remain untreated. It also urges older people to consider toenail cutting services that will enable them to wear correctly fitting  footwear and move more steadily on their feet

The campaign also focuses on lifestyle advising people to consider their diet and hydration by keeping a diary of what they eat and drink, while those living a sedentary lifestyle are urged to join exercise and activity classes for older people. Nordic Walking classes are available across Wales that help improve older people’s leg and core strength, and balance. It is a full-body exercise that's easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels.  While Tai Chi and other indoor exercise classes can also boost upper and lower body strength, flexibility and balance.

Around the home inadequate lighting, frayed carpets, trailing wires and general clutter are all potential trip hazards that can be rectified easily. While small adaptations such as installing grab rails and ramps will make it safer and easier for older people to move around their home. 

Client story

A little while ago now, I’d had a fall on the steps at the front of my house, and really lost my confidence. It meant that getting out the door was a worry for me – so I started going out less and less. My confidence really took a knock, and it stopped me going out to meet friends as often. I then received a visit from a caseworker to help me out and arranged for the installation of a grab rail and helped me apply for some extra benefits.  This gave me extra confidence and income which meant I could do things I couldn’t have imagined previously – I even went all the way to Torquay for a few days. Since the visit I’ve regained a lot of confidence, am financially better off and I go out a lot more.