The Local Community Hears How Frailty and Falling Can Be Linked

In elderly people, falling is closely linked with frailty from two angles: if someone is frail, they are more at risk of falling and causing more damage when they do so, equally if someone falls this then puts them more at risk of becoming frail.

Local caring company Home Instead took the time recently to talk about frailty and the risk of falling on local radio station Stray FM.  

Sheena Van Parys, Director at Home Instead Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk talked to Stray FM presenter Beth Parsons on falling and that even the fear of falling has a significant impact on the health and well being of older people

With a fall you could be found on the floor for many reasons, perhaps, because your ‘legs gave way’, you collapsed, fainted, tripped, or perhaps medications have upset your balance and strength.  

A fall can have devastating effects – it can result in increased anxiety and depression, reduced activity, mobility and social contact, and greater dependence on medical and social services and other forms of care.

Another point to make is that falls can be both an indicator and a consequence of frailty in later life.

What is Frailty?

Frailty is now known as a ‘distinctive state of health’ related to the ageing process where people become increasingly vulnerable to physical and emotional setbacks

Progressive frailty often remains unnoticed until a crisis happens, such as a fall or ill health.

Proactive care planning is needed when frailty is recognised, people should be involved in their own holistic self-care, allowing them to take control of their health and well being which is crucial to the success of falls prevention strategies

According to the Royal college of nursing, in people aged over 85 years, about 1 in 4 is living with frailty and increasingly it is suggested that frailty needs to be thought of as a long-term condition which is identified using assessments and indicators.   If 3 out of 5 of the following indicators are identified that person can be classed as frail:

1. Unintentional weight loss
2. Feelings of exhaustion
3. Weakness (via strength test)
4. Slow walking speed
5. Low levels of physical activity

Frailty can worsen over time and put people in the higher risk category of falls. The best way to manage frailty is to engage as much as you can, optimize what you can, what’s important is to build resilience to the impact of frailty  

Some suggestions on how to prevent falls:

In the home environment:  

· Make sure all hallways, stairs and paths are well lit and clear of objects and be sure to use rails and banisters when going up and down the stairs.
· Secure all area rugs to the floor so they do not move when you walk on them and try not to place rugs at the bottom or top of stairs.
· Remember not to rush to answer the phone as many people fall trying to answer the phone.

Physical and Mental health

· Look after your bones, muscles and build strength by doing regular weight bearing activities and eat a healthy diet with calcium rich foods and if necessary plan meals to   encourage weight gain rather than loss, perhaps diet, low fat foods are not the right option for you   
· Look after your feet, eyes and ears with regular health professional check-ups and then follow the appropriate care and guidance
· Do your shoes and slippers have the right support and non-slip grip?
· Speak to your GP if you find your medication is affecting your balance or making you dizzy.
· For mental well being- maintain social contact, stay in touch with friends and family, plan activities and days out, setting yourself small goals can give you a sense of    achievement, motivation and emotional well being.

To listen to the Stray FM interview please click on the link below:

Here at Home Instead we can help with everyday activities to ensure you are safe and free from falls when indoors and outdoors. We can also help with meal times, medication, appointments with health professionals and of course be a friend and companion.

For more information contact Home Instead Harrogate 01423 774490, Ripon 01765 530400, Thirsk 01845 440510, or email:  [email protected]