Campaign aims to educate over-65s to prevent falls

A retired couple taking a walk in the park

A retired couple taking a walk in the park

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A campaign to help older people stay on their feet and avoid potentially dangerous falls has been launched by health and council chiefs.

Falls are a major problem for older people, with more than 30 per cent of over-65s falling every year, often more than once.

They can cause physical injuries such as fractures and head injuries but also psychological harm along with longer-term problems such as disability, loss of independence and social isolation.

In Scotland the cost of falls by older people has been estimated at more than £471m every year.

The Take Small Steps to Stay on your Feet campaign, launched today, provides five easy tips and suggestions about what people should do if they lose their balance.

The campaign recommends that older people receive regular checkups, with eyesight and hearing tested regularly.

It also urges them to wear shoes or slippers that are comfortable and fit properly and get their GP to regularly review their prescription medications.

Suggestions include eating a balanced calcium-rich diet of dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and bread and fish to keep bones strong.

Taking regular exercise such as walking, gardening and dancing can also strengthen muscles, bones and improve balance.

Clearing their home of obstacles such as rugs, loose carpets and items on the floor can also cut the risk of a fall.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Health and Social Care Convener, said: “It’s important people realise that falling is not an inevitable part of getting older, as many falls can be prevented.

“By making a few simple changes, older people can reduce the risk of falling both in and out of the home.

“The consequences of a fall can be devastating but by following these five easy tips we can make a real difference to older people’s lives.”

The campaign advises older people who fall to move to a soft surface, stay warm, call for help and keep moving. There is also information about the best ways to get up after a fall.

Lynne Douglas, Corporate Lead for Falls Prevention and Bone Health, NHS Lothian, said: “Preventing falls is vital in helping older people to live well and safely in their 
communities.

“This is an excellent initiative which is a result of collaboration between NHS Lothian services and the council and we hope that it will make a difference to the lives of older people in Edinburgh.”

Leaflets and posters highlighting the campaign will be issued to surgeries, pharmacists, libraries, care homes and sheltered housing complexes in the coming weeks.