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Preventing slips, trips and falls this winter
16 January 2018

Falls are a common, but often overlooked cause of injury and for many older people, particularly those with long term health conditions, they can happen more often.

Each year, around 1 in 3 adults over 65 are likely to fall at least once, so regular exercise and knowing how to lower the risks is important - especially during the winter months.

A fall is often the symptom of an underlying problem so it is vital that you speak to your GP if you have had a recent fall – they can also provide you with advice and support to help prevent it from happening again. GPs can run simple balance checks to see whether patients are at a greater risk of falling and can refer patients to specialist support services in the local area.  Half of people who have had a fall go on to have another fall within a year: so prevention is important.

Most falls are avoidable and there are many simple things you can do to help prevent them such as regular health checks, exercise and adjustments to the home.

Gentle exercise like walking and dancing can help to improve strength and balance and in turn boost confidence. You can also join Steady and Strong classes, which are run by Hampshire County Council and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and a great way of improving balance and meeting new friends.

Many falls can be avoided by clearing clutter, putting in hand rails and good lighting in the home. The NHS, Hampshire Fire & Rescue and Age UK are just some of the support groups here to help. These groups can perform home checks or assessments, which help educate people on the dangers of falling in the home whilst recommending simple things to help prevent a fall.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust both provide community falls services across Hampshire.

Sally Ann Belward, Solent NHS Trust’s Falls Thematic lead, explained why knowing how to prevent falls matters.

“Falls-related injuries are the leading cause of death in people aged over 75. Knowing how to prevent them is important – whether it is to help ourselves, loved-ones or our neighbours.

“I would urge all those affected to make the most of the support networks which are there to help. Often just taking advice, listening to simple suggestions and making minor adjustments in our home and lifestyle can make a big difference.”

Adi Phillips, Falls Prevention Co-ordinator for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “If you have had a fall, it is very important that you report this to your nurse, GP or therapist, they can then carry out an assessment to keep you safe and reduce the risk of it happening again.

“A falls assessment may result in providing equipment, making some changes to your home such as rails or grab handles and attending exercise classes to improve balance, strength and coordination.”

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