Common ailments

Falls

My elderly mother suffered a hip fracture after a bad fall at home last year. Before her accident, she was extremely independent in her every day life. Now however, she is worried about carrying out some every day activities in case she has another bad fall.

Every year, around a third of people aged 65 and over will have an accidental fall. For many, this can mean broken bones, a long stay in hospital and a real knock to their confidence which can prevent them doing the things they want to do. It appears your mother has been affected in the same way. It is important therefore to make a few small changes which may help your mother feel safer and allow her to gradually regain some confidence.

A good start would be to clear any clutter in your mother’s home, make sure all carpets and rugs are secured down and ensure high cupboards are arranged so that your mother doesn’t have to stretch in order to reach things.

Slipping on wet floors in the bathroom or kitchen is another common cause of falls so it might be worth investing in some non-slip rubber mats for these areas. Wearing shoes or rubber-soled slippers rather than just socks or tights on slippery surfaces would also help. Make sure the house is well-lit too so that your mother can see clearly.

Getting older often means developing health problems which affect balance and coordination. Also, some medication can have side effects which put people at increased risk of falling. Your mother may wish to visit her GP who can check her balance, walking and any medication she is taking. It is important that your mother tries to stay active as this will improve both her mobility and confidence.

The website for charity Age UK, www.ageuk.org.uk, also offers advice about ways to make household tasks easier and safer.

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