Coping with A FALL
WOMAN'S WEEKLY|January 18, 2022
As we grow older, we’re increasingly at risk of falling and injuring ourselves
Dr Gill Jenkins
Every year, more than a third of people over the age of 65 suffer a fall. For every 100 of these, 20 need medical help, nearly 10 sustain a fracture, commonly wrists and hips, and for many, falls result in a long hospital stay. Around 50% of falls occur at home, causing loss of confidence, low self-esteem and reduced independence. Falls may result in a ‘long lie’ of over 12 hours, when the patient is unable to get up from the floor. This has potentially serious consequences such as hypothermia, bronchopneumonia and pressure sores, affecting their recovery or resulting in a move to residential care, higher financial costs and decreased quality of life.

With ageing, your sense of balance slowly declines, your muscles gradually weaken, your vision deteriorates and reaction time slows, making it harder for you to avoid something in your path or adjust to surface changes, resulting in a fall. Medication can also affect your balance or perception, especially if on multiple medications. Common responsible drugs include diuretics, sedatives or sleeping medications, hypertension or mental health medications. Older people may be affected by many health conditions that can increase the risk of falls. Eye diseases affect your perception, making it difficult to see obstacles.

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