Falls in the home account for most A&E admissions among the over 80s. Many are preventable. The consequences of a fall can be life-threatening; even the fear of falling can significantly impact the independence of elderly parents and relatives in their own homes. With our partner Anthropos we have researched this checklist of 19 ways to help prevent falls among the elderly at home.
The tips and ideas will help reduce the likelihood of a fall, enabling elderly parents and relatives to remain living confidently and independently at home, and will give you peace of mind for their safety and well-being.
The checklist comprises a combination of health tips – eating well and staying active – with practical alterations around the home, and the introduction of some great cost-effective tech products.
19 Ways to prevent falls at home among the elderly
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The consequences of a fall for an elderly person can go well beyond hours alone on the kitchen floor which is bad enough in itself.
Hip fractures make up 1.8 million NHS bed days a year, and over £1 billion in hospital costs. For the person who has fallen, a fractured hip, wrist or worse can lead to a stay in hospital, followed by weeks – maybe months – of physio and recovery, and potentially major disruption at home.
Tech and useful products to prevent falls at home
There are some excellent tech and products that will give elderly parents and relatives confidence to continue living independently despite being anxious about falls. They will also give you peace of mind that they are safe and well even if you live miles away.
Our top picks are:
- A fitbit or similar wearable device which can monitor things like heart rate and blood pressure
- Consider mobility aids for frail elderly relatives – a walking stick, rollator or zimmer frame
- Personal alarms enable the wearer to press a button for immediate assistance should they fall, to summon help either from a 24/7 contact centre or connected directly to family members; many alarms now have a built-in falls monitor which activates without being pressed when a fall is detected;
- Home monitoring sensors – placed discreetly round the home these sensor systems monitor movement, or lack of movement and will raise the alarm should it detect a fall;
Home monitoring systems, such as those developed by Anthropos, can actively help prevent falls. By tracking movement in the home, patterns of behaviour can be identified which can help you establish if your elderly Mum or Dad is at greater risk of a fall.
For example, if the sensors detect that Mum is going to the bathroom more often than her normal routine it could be that she has a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), which can cause dizziness, which in turn can lead to a fall.
The technology developed by Anthropos is designed to gather and monitor useful information around the home without being intrusive. There are no video cameras, no-one is “spying” on your parents or “listening in”. Motion sensors detect movement and will trigger an alarm should a change – a fall, no movement for a period of time – happen.
We are creatures of habit so over time it is possible to establish patterns of behaviour – a boiled kettle for a cup of tea at 7.30 every morning; a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When these don’t happen, or change, an alarm is triggered to a contact centre, and you. You can also see if patterns of movement and behaviour change over time, to detect and prevent a decline in health and to intervene if necessary.
Health and well-being to help prevent falls at home
There are many health-related reasons that could contribute to a fall; a dizzy spell due to low blood pressure; poor eyesight or hearing that lead to balance problems; or the side effects of medication.
Our checklist of the best health and well-being advice to help prevent falls includes:
- Stay physically active and fit with regular exercise – even a gentle walk round the block every day is beneficial
- Balance exercises – such as standing on one leg while cleaning teeth- can make a difference to balance and mobility
- Have regular eye and hearing tests
- Keep bone healthy to reduce the likelihood of fractures and breaks, with a good diet which includes calcium rich food
- Check the side effects of any medication, and consult with a Doctor or nurse about any inter-reaction between different meds
- Avoid dehydration and UTIs by drinking enough fluids, both of which lead to dizziness
- Keep feet in good order and wear sensible/comfortable shoes
Encourage your parents or relatives to try to have regular check-ups with the GP or community nurse, and don’t dismiss the odd trip or stumble as just “old age”.
Practical alterations around the home to prevent falls
Tripping over a rug or slipping on a wet bathroom floor are easily done, yet also easily prevented. There are very practical as well as cost effective alterations to make the home safer:
- Make sure the lighting is bright enough such as dark hallways, outside the back door
- Consider night lights to help with night-time wanderings in the dark
- Remove or replace rugs that might be a trip hazard
- Clear the clutter – piles of stuff around the house
- Put grabrails in the loo and bathroom, up the stairs, by the front door
- Consider Non-slip flooring in the bathroom and kitchen
- Sweep paths in the Autumn and winter
- Riser recliner chairs are brilliant if someone needs help standing up
The local authority may help with funding for home alterations, either carrying them out or providing a grant for the works to be carried out. Your parent will need a care assessment, and/or a visit by an occupational therapist who will help determine what would be useful for them in the home.
Preventing falls and staying safe at home
Anthropos is the leading connected care platform with a track record in delivering tech solutions to the care sector and other providers. The Anthropos system provides insights and evidence to support families and care providers to refine care plans and make better care decisions.