April No Falls

By: Caroline Graydon

April No Falls

A national and international campaign to educate and raise awareness of falls prevention and help those at risk of falling to stay on their feet.  

The April No Falls 2018 campaign key messages for doctors, patients, carers and family members are: 

  • Patient's fall when they don't call – your general practitioner will help you to stay on your feet.  Talk to your GP about a toileting plan today.
  • Patient’s fall when they don’t call! Talk to your GP about any dizziness from medication and falls risk. When you’ve got to go – get up slow.

The problem and frequency of falls

Falls are a major health issue in the community with around 30% of adults over 65 experiencing at least one fall per year. This is set to increase as Australia’s population ages with the proportion of people aged over 65 predicted to increase.

Injuries from falls

Falls account for 40% of injury-related deaths and one percent of total deaths in this age group. Between 22-60% of older people suffer injuries from falls, 10-15% suffer serious injuries, 2-6% suffer fractures and 0.2-1.5% suffer hip fractures.

The most commonly self-reported injuries include superficial cuts and abrasions, bruises and sprains.

The most common injuries that require hospitalisation comprise neck fractures, leg/femur fractures, fractures of radius, ulna and other bones in the arm or body.

In terms of morbidity and mortality, the most serious of these fall-related injuries is a fracture of the hip. Elderly people recover slowly from hip fractures and are vulnerable to post-operative and bed rest complications.

It is unfortunate that around 25% of hip fractures result in death. From those who do survive, some people never regain complete mobility.

Another consequence of falling is the “long lie” – remaining on the ground or floor for more than an hour after a fall.

The long lie is a marker of weakness, illness and social isolation among the elderly. Time spent on the floor is associated with fear of falling, muscle damage, pneumonia, pressure sores, dehydration, and hypothermia.

A reduction in quality of life and fear of falling

Falls can also result due to a restriction of activity through fear of falling, reduced quality of life and independence. Even falls that do not result in physical injuries can result in the “post-fall syndrome” – a loss of confidence, hesitancy, tentativeness with resultant loss of mobility and independence.

Fall prevention interventions

A number of falls prevention strategies have been shown to reduce the number of incidents and the risk of falls in the community. A number of trials have shown that group exercise, a component of home exercise, e.g. tai chi and an intervention which includes individual risk assessment all have been found to reduce the risk and rate of falls over a number of trials.

If you are experiencing dizziness or regular falls, a falls prevention program will need to be developed with your doctor and allied health support to reduce potential harm to yourself.

Resources: Qld Health Events and Australia and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Medical Centre, or any other provider within the clinic.

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