Keeping the elderly on their feet
Every day, 133 older Queenslanders have a fall requiring medical attention, even though many falls are preventable.
Queensland Health is reminding hospitals, residential care facilities and in the community to be cautious and take appropriate steps to reduce the likelihood of a fall.
Professor Alison Mudge is the Clinical Director of Research and Education in the Internal Medicine and Aged Care Department at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. She said one of the biggest causes of falls for older people is delirium.
“Delirium is an acute medical condition where a person may feel confused, disorientated and unable to pay attention,” Professor Mudge said.
“This confusion and disorientation is a major risk factor for hospital falls.
“Delirium can affect up to 50 per cent of hospitalised patients over the age of 65.
“Cognitive conditions such as dementia increase the risk of delirium, which can be a complication of serious illness, surgery and many medicines.
Professor Mudge said implementing a delirium prevention program can reduce falls by up to 50 per cent.
“A delirium prevention program includes encouraging normal mobility and exercise, ensuring good hydration and nutrition, managing pain, and providing activities to keep the mind active,” she said.
“Families can help by notifying staff if their family member is more confused than normal, and by helping staff to encourage physical and mental activity.
“Bringing in familiar objects, reading the daily news, and encouraging your family member to walk or do their exercises can also help.”
Key tips for reducing falls for elderly patients in hospitals, residential care facilities and in the community include:
- Calling for help from staff, especially before getting up from bed or using the toilet.
- Get up slowly, count to five before standing and ensure the bed is at a good height so your feet touch the ground easily.
- Wear suitable footwear and avoid clutter on the ground.
- Use the grab rails in the shower and near the toilet to assist with mobility.
It is important to remember that falls happen all year round, so incorporating these tips into a daily routine will help keep elderly patients safe and on their feet.
For more information and advice on reducing falls, see Queensland Stay on your Feet at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/stayonyourfeet
7 July 2017.