13th April 2018
What causes a patient to fall?
Did you know that 30% of 65-year olds fall at least once per year? The number of people aged 65 and over has been predicted to increase by 40% in the next 17 years. There are many reasons as to why a fall can occur, and they are put in to three categories:
- Risk factors for anticipated physiological falls. This can include some medications that can affect the following. The factors associated with this category are; loss of balance, impaired gait or mobility, impaired cognition or confusion, impaired vision. These falls occur due to the patients’ history of falls and their mobility that is gradually decreasing.
- Risk factors for unanticipated physiological falls. The factors associated with this category are; unexpected orthostasis, extreme hypoglycaemia; stroke, heart attack, seizure. These falls that occur cannot be predicted, it is unknown to you that it is going to happen.
- Risk factors for accidental falls. The factors associated with this category are; spills on the floor, errors in judgement: meaning you aren’t paying attention or you lose concentration, cords and objects on the floor, making it a hazard for you to trip and fall over. These are falls that can happen definitely but unexpectedly.
Assessing your patients’ risk for falling.
- The assessment consists of two categories: risk factors that are extrinsic or intrinsic. The intrinsic risk factors for falls are those which originate within the individual.
- Low blood pressure and hypotension caused by dehydration, standing and muscle weakness.
- Poor balance and impaired mobility.
- Limited endurance for physical activity.
- Problems with feet that cause pain.
- Vision impairments due to poor depth perception, glaucoma or cataracts.
The extrinsic risk factors for falls are those which originate outside the individual.
- Poor lighting
- Slippery floors from spillages
- Uneven flooring surfaces
Fall risk screening and assessment.
Reasons why your GP will refer you for a screening assessment:
- You had a blackout
- You experienced periods of dizziness or palpitations
- You found yourself on the floor and you didn’t know why
- You have suffered from many falls
Purpose of the screen assessment:
- You listen to what happened and why you think you fell
- You identify risk factors that may have contributed to your fall
- The professionals agree on an action plan with you to reduce the risk of harming yourself should you fall again, and also strategies to reduce the risk of you having another fall.
Preventing a fall
There are many ways and lots of things you can do to prevent a fall from happening.
- Non-slip socks
- Using barriers on walls when in the shower; in the bath; using the toilet. Barriers will aid you to help you get up safely without slipping on the wet surface, they will help you stand up from the toilet instead of struggling to get up and being at risk of falling.
- Aids like Zimmer frames, walking sticks and crutches can help you day to day walking around, but they will also help you not to fall or trip over.
- Exercise programmes: Having an adequate exercise programme will help you to gain and maintain strength in your arms and hands, by using hand weights, this will benefit you as you will be able to grip on to objects like barriers and walking sticks more firmly, which will then prevent you from having a fall. It will give your more confidence and put your mind at ease knowing you can prevent yourself from falling
- Ensure there are no objects left on the floor that will cause you to trip over anything.
- Hold on to the rails on both sides when walking up and down the stairs
- Make sure lighting is in good condition, especially at the top and bottom of stairs, doorways, in the bathroom. Ensure that lighting is available at all times, e.g.; perhaps when getting up in the middle of the night.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing and footwear, it is easy to get loose clothing trapped round a door handle or at the end of the stair railing.
- Insert non-slip matts in the bathroom, outside of the bath tub, inside the bath or shower, near the sink and toilet.