Live Stronger For Longer: April Falls campaign
Falls represent pain, immobility and inconvenience for a large number of people. Nearly 27,000 people over 50 were admitted to hospitals in the past year due to a fall.
Geriatrician and falls clinical advisor Shankar Sankaran says the effects of a fall on older people are most serious.
"Only half of those over 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, and many will not regain their former degree of mobility," he says. "Between 10 and 20 per cent will be admitted to aged residential care as a result of the fracture. Sadly, 27 per cent of those over 80 will die within a year of their hip fracture."
He says a fall can be devastating for older people.
"It can make them fearful of falling again, which stops them doing the things they used to do. This can lead to social isolation and even depression."
“I’m much slower now, everything seems to take much longer that it did."
Two years ago Upper Hutt’s Yvonne Price, now 81, had a fall on the deck of her daughter’s house and badly broke her ankle. She spent three weeks in hospital, and then had to use a walking frame for six weeks after she got home. She says her walking has never got back to what it had been.
“I’m much slower now, everything seems to take much longer that it did. I also get tired much more easily. But I’m hopeful my walking will get back to what it was – it’s just taking a lot longer than I thought”
Dr Sankaran says there are a number of things older people can do to reduce their risk of having a fall.
"These include checking their home for items such as loose mats or rugs, removing clutter and making sure there is adequate lighting.
"Wearing sturdy footwear, checking prescriptions for glasses are up-to-date and checking with your doctor to see if any medications they take are still necessary, are all ways in which older people can reduce their risk."
April marks the start of the annual April Falls campaign, which is supported by the Health Quality & Safety Commission and ACC and run by health care providers. It aims to raise awareness about falls and what can be done to prevent them. This year the theme for April Falls is Live Stronger for Longer.
For more information about preventing falls visit Live Stronger for Longer and check out the home safety checklist.