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Age UK Falls Awareness Week 2013 - put your 'Best foot forward'


According to statistics on the Age UK website, more than 250,000 people aged over 65 are treated for falls in England alone. And many of us know, or have even found out first-hand just how serious a fall can be whether it results in bruises, broken bones or the shock brings a sudden lack of confidence. However, should you have the bad experience of a fall, it is suggested that rather than cutting back on physical activity and withdrawing in an attempt to avoid falling again, Age UK suggests that senior citizens keep moving. In fact, the Government advises that the elderly undertake upto 2 to 2.5 hours a week of moderate intense exercise/physical activity, muscle training and balance & co-ordination practice. Good practice could be to use the stairs more often. As also, slowly and repeatedly rising to a standing position from sitting position in a chair, playing light sports such as table tennis or badminton , ballroom dancing, yoga or simply joining a local walking group. If you haven’t exercised for quite a while or you have worries about your health, then you should consult your GP before starting any new physical activity. Should you experience any chest pain or feel faint at any time whilst exercising then you should stop exercising immediately and contact your GP. For more information on Age UK Falls Awareness, and to read a well detailed guide then please click on: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/For-professionals/Research/Falls_Prevention_Guide_2013.pdf?dtrk=true Shown below are Age UK’s tips to making your own home fall-free. Get your eyes tested Glasses that are fitted with bifocal or varifocal lenses can make objects and surfaces look closer than they really are. So they might possibly cause you to trip or lose your balance, particularly when on the stairs. Therefore, talk to your optician if your glasses are fitted with bifocal or varifocal lenses and remember to always get your eyes tested and glasses renewed every 2 years. And earlier if you are aged over 70. You should always have a regular eye test, even if you think your eyesight is fine, as an eye test can detect many eye conditions at an early stage. NHS eye tests are free over the age of 60, and if you live in Scotland then they are free for everyone. Always look after your feet Feet problems can also affect your balance and increase the risk of falling, so always report problems such as foot pain or decreased sensation in the soles or toes of your feet to your GP. Always keep your toenails cut short if you have arthritis. You may find that trainers or well-cushioned shoes are more comfortable. Always wear shoes that fit well, high-sided shoes with low heels and thin soles laced firmly or held on with velcro. And always try to avoid sandals or high heels. And wear slippers with a good grip that fasten and stay on properly, so they are never loose. Always manage your medication Certain medicines, medical conditions and illnesses, such as poorly controlled diabetes, can make you feel faint or affect your balance. Always let your GP or pharmacist know if you have ever felt faint or dizzy, as they may want to change your dose or look at other alternatives. If you take numerous medicines for an illness, your GP should always review them on a regular basis. Just in case you no longer need them or your dose needs to be changed for any reason. Check your home Always keep an eye on things in your house that could make you slip, trip or fall for any reason. Always ensure you have good lighting particularly on the stairs, stairway and always clear floors of trailing flexes/cords or fraying carpets. Be aware of your pet dog or cat and ensure that they are not under your feet, and perhaps attach a bell to the pets collar so you can hear where they are. Handrails/Grab rails should also be fitted on both sides of the stairs, as also a non-slip mat in the bath with a fitted handrail. Non-slip mats should be fitted under rugs, in the kitchen, on stair landings and next to the bath.. Always use a stepladder rather than a chair to reach high places such as kitchen cupboards. And always avoid jobs such as cleaning windows and changing light bulbs if they should make you feel dizzy or light-headed. Sitting or standing up too quickly can make you feel lightheaded so take your time when getting up from your chair. And then stand still for a few moments to steady yourself before starting to walk. Tensing your arms and legs a few times before getting up from a chair or sitting on the side of the bed for a few minutes before standing up can also be helpful. To download Age UK’s free Staying Steady and Healthy Living guides and to find out about Falls Awareness Week please visit: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/keeping-fit/preventing-falls/falls-awareness-week/ or call Age UK free on 0800 169 6565 Additionally, you could visit the ROSPA webpage on Accidents to Older People: http://www.rospa.com/homesafety/adviceandinformation/olderpeople/accidents.aspx

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