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Make the Right Call: Take steps to avoid falls whatever age you are

PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 June 2014 | UPDATED: 10:53 20 June 2014

Chair based exercise class at Baylham Care Home run by Lindsay Bennett of ActivLives. As part of Falls Prevention Awareness Week. 
Hollie Jensen Peggy clarke

Chair based exercise class at Baylham Care Home run by Lindsay Bennett of ActivLives. As part of Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Hollie Jensen Peggy clarke

Anyone of any age can have a fall, but young children, older people and those with long-term health conditions are generally most at risk.

Many people think that for young children, falls are a natural part of growing up and for older people they are an inevitable consequence of ageing. In fact, many falls can be prevented. Falls among children are one of the most common causes of head injuries and broken bones and falls among older people result in almost 800 admissions to West Suffolk and Ipswich hospitals.

By Making the Right Call we can reduce the unnecessary suffering of people injured by falls as well as relieving the pressure on busy hospital staff.

Dr Mashbileg Maidrag, consultant in public health medicine with Suffolk’s public health team, said: “Most young children suffer serious injury when they do something parents don’t think they can do, such as rolling over, taking their first steps or climbing.

“Taking some simple precautions could save a child from a possible fatal injury or devastating life-changing consequences such as brain injury.”

Steps include:

n To prevent children climbing out of windows, remove any furniture in front of windows

n Fit safety locks to windows to save yourself the worry of your child falling out

n As soon as your baby can stand, remove any large toys that could help a child climb out of their cot

n Change your baby’s nappy on the floor – it’s safer as babies can wriggle off a table or bed in moments

n Fit safety gates to stop your child climbing or falling down stairs

n Don’t forget to fasten your child into their highchair every time as they can easily push themselves out when your back is turned

Falling is one of the most frequent and serious types of injury for anyone aged over 65 – and the statistics on age related falls are eye-opening:

n 50% of people aged over 80 suffer a fall each year

n 33% of people aged over 65 suffer a fall each year

n One in 10 elderly falls result in serious injury

n 25% of all 999 calls are falls related

Dr David Egan, a GP in Debenham and a member of the clinical executive of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Older people can help themselves and avoid the risk of falling simply by improving their health and wellbeing and thinking about things in their environment that might lead them to falling. Exercise is the most effective way to stay steady on your feet.

“Think about the possible dangers around your home. Take a look and check for loose fitting carpets, slippery rugs or electrical wires that could prevent a possible danger.

“It can be hard to admit you are at risk of falling. But don’t be afraid to ask your GP for help as there may be medical reasons that can be resolved. Help and support is available for you to stay well and independent for as long as possible.”

Dr Emma Derbyshire, a GP in Bury St Edmunds and a member of the governing body of NHS West Suffolk CCG, said: “In west Suffolk our CCG has established a community based Integrated Fracture Liaison Service, in partnership with West Suffolk Hospital. This new service offers a bone health and falls prevention assessment to those elderly patients who have previously suffered a fall. If we can prevent other falls occurring, then elderly people can maintain their independence longer and avoid the need to be admitted to hospital.”

Each week, more than 250 people attend the 30 “Positive Steps” exercise classes, which are run by Age UK Suffolk and supported by the NHS West Suffolk CCG.

Sam Reid, Age UK Suffolk’s falls prevention exercise co-ordinator, said: “Our classes are designed for older people who are at risk of falling or who have previously fallen, and have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of falls by 37%.”

To find your nearest class call Sam on 01284 757758 or email sam.reid@ageuksuffolk.

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