Whilst people of any age can sustain an injury as a result of a fall, some groups are more at risk.
Risks are much higher for older people with the Clinical Excellence Commission revealing that more than one in three people aged 65 years or older fall at least once a year.
Dr Peter Roberts, Director of Emergency Medicine at Ryde Hospital, said he frequently treats patients presenting with injuries sustained from a fall.
"Ryde has a significant population of older people, and the falls risk for this group are quite high," Dr Roberts said.
"People should take extra care to avoid a falls injury, which for many older people, can be completely life changing robbing them of mobility and confidence.
"In older people it is often other health conditions which put the person at risk. Chronic conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease can all increase the risk of someone having a fall related injury by impairing cognitive or physical abilities. Patients taking five or more medications can also increase their risks," he said.
While noting the significance of the problem Dr Roberts identified there are a number of simple things people can do to reduce their risk.
- Get your vision checked regularly, and wear appropriate glasses for the task
- Ensure you have good lighting around the home, especially on stairways
- Make sure you are eating a healthy, well balanced diet and stay hydrated
- Wear good fitting shoes with slip resistant soles
- Report any dizziness to your local doctor, especially if it is related to the commencement of a new medication
- Reduce hazards around the home by not leaving cords, garden hoses or other items out to trip on
- Don’t climb ladders, or on high surfaces like tables or bench tops, from the age of 65, as falls from these quite commonly cause very serious injuries
- Take care not to have a fall, because the risk of having a fall related injury are higher in those who have previously injured themselves from a fall.
April 3 has been identified as the national awareness raising day, April Falls Day. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Moving Right to Stay Upright’.
Dr Roberts said if you do have a fall, see your GP even if you are not badly injured. You may be able to have an underlying condition treated and prevent another fall.
Many local programs operate which are specifically designed to improve strength and mobility for older people including the ‘Stepping On’ and ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ programs.
For more information about these programs in your area, or to learn simple exercises to improve balance and strength visit www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au
A photo opportunity can be arranged at Ryde Hospital on Monday April 3 as April Falls Day is being marked at the hospital