Public urged to help prevent falls
Health board staff are adding their support to a campaign aimed at reducing the risks of older people falling.
It’s estimated that between 230,000 and 460,000 people over the age of 60 fall in Wales each year.
Wales Falls Awareness Week (12th-18th July) provides guidance and support for older people whether they’ve had a fall or not.
The week aims to help people understand what they can do themselves to prevent falling and the variety of local services available to provide support.
As part of this, the Steady On-Stay Safe campaign highlights two aspects so the risks of falling can be reduced or prevented.
Steady On encourages individuals to stay active and take exercise to avoid muscle weakness from being too sedentary or sitting down too long.
Stay Safe focuses on what can be done to support older people in their homes.
Catrin Treharne (pictured above), a Swansea Bay community physiotherapist, is the Wales representative for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy specialist interest group for Older People – AGILE.
She is keen to ensure the message of Steady on-Stay Safe will enable people to prevent a fall and know it’s not an inevitable part of growing old.
Catrin said: “We understand the devastating effect falls have on our older community and want to raise awareness of ways in which people can keep themselves safe at home.
“We want to encourage everyone to have a conversation with elderly friends, relatives and neighbours to ask them if they’ve fallen or fear falling.
“If the answer is ‘yes’, they need to urge them to seek help to ensure they lower the risk of falling again and maybe suffering a serious injury.
“We also want to make sure every older person knows where they can go for help and support if they have experienced a slip, trip or fall.
“Older people can access our services at any time.
“We work with them to regain their confidence and independence after a fall and to support them to stay safe at home to prevent falls from happening.”
Because of the pandemic, Catrin (pictured right with the information leaflet) said there were concerns people who may be at risk were not being seen, particularly those who had been self-isolating and hadn’t been able to get out and about.
“Covid-19 has impacted on all our lives in so many ways, but for the most vulnerable, the impacts have been devastating,” she said.
“The Stay at Home and Stay Safe messages have been critical to the success of the public health campaign to fight the virus but have had a significant impact on the wellbeing of many sections of society and particularly older people.
“So it’s more important than ever for us to check on elderly relatives, friends and neighbours.”
A leaflet is available that gives essential information about what to do and questions people can ask themselves to self-assess or ask others who may be at risk of falling.
There are many factors, Catrin explained, which could lead to a fall.
She added: “If you’ve fallen once you’re likely to fall again and if you are of a certain age you’re more likely to fall.
“However, falling isn’t part of growing old and can affect younger people with possible underlying medical conditions which haven’t been diagnosed.
“Falls can affect everyone and could be a sign of something else.
“Prevention of falls means fewer people having to attend hospital which eases the burden on the NHS.”
Swansea Bay residents who need advice or are concerned about the risk of falling should either contact their GP or the Keep me Safe at Home team on 01792 636519 or email email@example.com
The following organisations can also help with guidance and support.
Care & Repair Cymru: www.careandrepair.org.uk
Age Cymru: www.agecymru.org.uk
Age Connects: www.ageconnectswales.org.uk