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Fall Prevention in the Elderly – The Ultimate Guide [2021]

Fall Prevention

The Ultimate Guide

Are you worried about the risk of an elderly loved one falling?

Take a breath, make a cup of tea and sit down for 5 minutes to read our ultimate guide to fall prevention in the elderly.

By reading our comprehensive and simple guide, you'll learn:

  • How dangerous falls in the elderly can be
  • The leading causes of falls
  • How to improve fall prevention at home
  • How to react fast to falls
  • And much, much more...

Our ultimate guide to fall prevention has all the information you'll ever need about falls in the elderly, and we really hope it helps you to keep your loved ones safe, secure and free from falling in the future.

Without further ado, let's get started!

Contents

Fall Prevention is Incredibly Important

Many people might consider fall prevention to not be a top priority. A slight bump and a scrape, perhaps a “Silly me!” as they get back to their feet. However, falls in the elderly are a much bigger concern for older people and those with elderly loved ones.

Falls in the elderly can have potentially life-changing consequences, so fall prevention is crucial in protecting older people against the risks of having a fall. With the information in this extensive guide, we'll give you a comprehensive look at fall prevention in the elderly.

With just a few simple fall prevention and reaction methods, you could protect your loved ones from having a nasty fall and be alerted fast should the worst happen!

Fall Prevention: The Stats

 

Around a third of people aged 65+ and about half of people aged 80+ fall at least once a year. At the same time, a quarter of a million older people in the UK are hospitalised because of a fall each year. Sadly, many people die every year as a result of falling.

 

Falls and their complications are the leading cause of severe injury, surgery admissions and accidental death in older people. Consequently, over 9,000 people in the UK each year die after being the victim of a fall (UK).

 

Falls are also the largest contributor to hospital admissions in the UK amongst older people. Fragility fractures from falls in the elderly create an extra £4.4 billion in NHS costs each year. Around £2 billion of this is due to hip fractures alone, a common injury experienced during falls in the elderly.

But There's Hope for the Future

 

Many exciting developments in technology and growing networks of support for older people mean fall prevention is becoming much easier. Falls in the elderly can also be responded to faster than ever before with the help of the latest gadgets.

 

Aside from technological solutions, some simple lifestyle changes can also help to improve fall prevention in the elderly enormously. However, no method of reducing falls in the elderly can be overlooked when looking to protect their safety and health!

 

Sources: Age UK (Article), Age UK (Report) & PHE

What Causes Falls?

Fall prevention - Falls in the elderly - man falling over

The truth is that falls in the elderly aren't just caused by something simple, like tripping over a loose cable or slipping on uneven ground. Even with a safe home, falling is still very likely for older people.

 

Just a few small changes in a person’s lifestyle can drastically reduce the chance of falling. Identifying the main causes of falls means it's easier to spot danger early, and plan fall prevention measures accordingly.

Health & Body

Lack of Exercise

Even if mobility issues means you're unable to get to a local gym, you can exercise easily indoors or outdoors. Make sure you have well-fitting shoes if exercising outdoors or on slippery surfaces.

 

Walking is a great way to keep fit and a safe, low-impact exercise. Joining a local walking group is also an easy way to socialise with people around the area whilst combatting both isolation and depression, combatting both isolation and depression. The NHS also have a great guide to exercise for older people.

medical stethoscope

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions like arthritis or MS can greatly affect muscle strength. Having a long-term medical condition can cause problems with maintaining muscle strength through exercise, but there are plenty of resources to help.

 

The MS Society has some great videos showing gentle MS-friendly exercises, and charities such as the Arthritis Foundation also offer great articles on the subject.

Balance & Coordination

Conditions & Illnesses Affecting Balance

 

When you're having issues with balance then it’s always worth seeing if any of your symptoms line-up with those on the NHS website. If you’re not in immediate danger, you can also try calling 111 in the UK for the NHS non-emergency line. Some conditions which can affect balance and coordination are:

 

Labyrinthitis - An infection of the inner ear which can affect balance and cause dizziness.

 

Circulatory Conditions - Stroke or low blood pressure can also cause issues with balance and potentially lead to fainting.

 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) - A common condition causing brief and sudden episodes of vertigo.

 

For any symptoms which line-up with those on the website, consider seeing your GP for a full diagnosis. The 111 operator may also advise that you see your GP as well. The sooner this is done, the less likely a fall will occur due to these symptoms. So, don't be scared to visit the doctor!

 

Sources: NHS

Issues With Feet

Pain or discomfort can make it difficult to walk correctly, and make falls more likely. This can be caused by underlying foot conditions, or even something simpler like wearing poorly-fitted shoes.

 

Try to see a chiropodist/podiatrist on a regular basis to get possible problems spotted and treated right away. Also, going for a proper shoe fitting can make sure shoes are comfortable when walking, whilst reducing the risk of falls.

elderly person holding shoes

Numbness (often caused by diabetes or poor circulation) can make it hard to place feet correctly on the floor, and lead to falls. When experiencing foot numbness, see a doctor right away to find out the cause and the proper course of treatment.

 

Previous injuries such as sprains or breaks can also contribute to falls if not healed properly. Ensure that any recovery advice is followed strictly after an injury to prevent falls in the future. Perhaps wear a properly-fitting brace on the injured area, like an ankle support strap or supportive insoles. Supportive equipment can help injuries heal quickly and safely, and reduce the possibility of future falls.

woman wearing hearing aid - fall prevention

Hearing & Visual Impairments

Hearing impairments reduce spatial awareness enormously. This can make it harder to notice other people or pets moving around, or activities going on in the background. The same goes for visual impairments, with progressive visual impairments (macular degeneration for example) also causing reduced depth perception. 

 

Also, hearing loss causes the brain to use more resources for hearing and interpreting speech and sound. Therefore, fewer resources go towards gait or balance. 

Make sure to get any problems with hearing or vision checked with a doctor immediately. Treatments are often available to help with these sorts of impairments, and could prevent a nasty fall in the future. Doctors will often be able to prescribe hearing aids, glasses or other solutions (such as medication) to help with these problems. If not, other specialists (such as optometrists or audiologists) can help to diagnose and treat problems with eyesight or hearing.

Environment & Awareness

Impairment From Alcohol & Drugs

Addiction to substances like drugs or alcohol is a massive problem in Britain. According to Alcohol Change UK, over half a million people in the UK are classed as being dependent drinkers (alcoholics), with only 18% of these people currently receiving treatment.

 

Illegal drug addiction is also a cause for concern, but is not nearly as widespread amongst older people. Even so, it’s important to ensure that your loved ones are safe from the dangers of addiction. Drug addiction is not only life-threatening, but can be linked directly to sensory impairment, which drastically increases the chances of falls in the elderly happening.

Even worse, falling due to drug or alcohol consumption could leave the person who has fallen stuck there for hours. The victim may be unable to get to a phone or alert people until the effects of their impairment subside. They may not even be aware if they’ve hurt themselves during the fall. This could drastically increase the chances of severe injury, or even death.

 

Luckily the NHS and many other organisations have a great deal of support available to those suffering from addiction, so not only can they improve their health and lifestyle by breaking free from this sort of condition, but they can also help to reduce their chance of having a potentially life-threatening fall in the future.

Amongst the elderly there tends to be a lower rate of illegal drug or substance addiction, though a drug does not need to be illegal to be addictive and contribute to an increased chance of falls in the elderly. Age UK recently put out a plea for more regulation in prescriptions for older people, due to the increased chance of falls in the elderly and other side effects it can contribute to.

Their full report lists a number of shocking revelations about the significant impact of prescription drug misuse on falls in the elderly, finding that the chance of falling over increases by 14% for an elderly person for every drug they take each week over the first four.

 

In England alone, one in ten people aged over 65 take at least eight different prescription medicines each week. This statistic increases to one in four people aged over 85, a major jump.

"The chance of falling over increases by 14% for an elderly person for every drug they take each week over the first four"

- Age UK

This is clearly a huge problem, with dependency on prescription medication becoming more widespread. This results in more people living with a greatly increased chance of falls as time goes by. Therefore it's clear that physical, home-based and lifestyle-based fall prevention measures are equally important in tackling this problem.

A simple reminder chart can be a good starting point to help keep prescription drug usage in check for elderly loved ones, but something smarter like a medication dispenser is often a much better choice.

 

With this type of system, the elderly user can be reminded to take their medication at the correct times and in the correct dosage, whilst missed doses can be registered so that loved ones are notified when prescription medication isn’t being taken correctly.

Pills are also locked inside and distributed only at certain times, preventing instances of overdose or accidental consumption of pills, and therefore reducing the risk of falls in the elderly greatly.

 

Sources: Age UK, Age UK (Report), Alcohol Change UK, DrugWise, NHS

Late-Night Toilet Trips

Rushing to the toilet can increase the chance of falls, especially at night. This is because stumbling over furniture or tripping over is much more likely to happen in the dark, or when tired. Drowsiness can also contribute to falls at night by impairing coordination. Luckily, assistive technology can be used to help with this sort of problem very easily. 

 

Motion sensing lights, for example, can light a person’s path as they walk to the bathroom during the night, as many older people do not want to turn the main light on and dazzle themselves. This helps to prevent a trip or fall in the dark.

If a loved one is going to the bathroom often during the night, there is a device that can help. An elderly monitoring system can help to identify problems like UTIs by showing how frequently they’re going to the bathroom during the night. It can even alert loved ones if they’re doing this as irregular times, which is a good early warning sign that they may have this sort of infection.

 

By identifying these patterns, falls in the elderly can be prevented much more easily down the line, as you’re able to get ahead of the problem more quickly. This means that treatment can be received more urgently, and things like antibiotics can be prescribed promptly before any infection gets worse.

Dementia, Alzheimer's & Mental Illness

 

According to the NHS, dementia and Alzheimer's disease can lead to a much higher risk of depression. Sadly, this can lead to a whole host of other problems. 

 

Depression can affect how a person eats and drinks, how they sleep and even how active they are. Fatigue, weakness from hunger/thirst and a lack of exercise can all contribute to an increased risk of falling, as well as the stress and restlessness brought on by depression already.  Fall prevention in those with dementia can often come down to ensuring the environment they live in is dementia friendly.

 

But what can you do to help?

Lighting

Investing in proper lighting can ensure that the person’s home is well-lit. Try to keep lighting natural-feeling and try to avoid sunlight being blocked out in the day. Blinds, curtains or objects by the window (hedges, furniture etc) can all block sunlight, making the home feel dark and gloomy whilst making it harder to discern day from night.

 

Try changing out lightbulbs for warm-white colours, rather than glaring white. There are also light alarm clocks available, helping someone wake up to a natural feeling light as it glows brighter. This is especially useful in bedrooms without much light, and can be a big help during the darker winter months.

Flooring

Avoid using mats where possible if the person is not used to them, as they may try to step or lunge over them, which can lead to having a fall. Don't use natural looking colours like blue or green where possible, as this can also help to prevent confusion when walking over surfaces.

 

Also, try to avoid reflective or shiny flooring if possible, as the person may become confused thinking that the floor is wet or slippery.

floor
man looking in mirror

Reflections

Avoid having mirrors or other highly-reflective surfaces around the house. Some dementia patients will become confused when seeing their reflection, often becoming startled as they don’t recognise themselves. This can lead to falls as they may become frightened and distressed, perhaps moving quickly away from the mirror for example and losing their footing. This is known as ‘stranger in the mirror’.

Colours

Colour is an important factor in helping someone with dementia to make sense of their environment. Colours which blend too easily can make it hard to distinguish room layouts or the position of furniture. Try to use contrasting colours on walls and floors, avoiding patterns or stripes which could cause confusion.

 

Furniture in bold colours which contrasts with the floor or walls can also help with distinguishing its position, shape and size. This might not seem like much, but it can be a very simple way to prevent falls in the elderly.

talking reminder clock

Dementia Technology

A wide variety of dementia technology is available to help dementia sufferers with their day to day routine. Some may struggle to discern the time of day, thinking it’s 2am for example instead of 2pm when reading a clock. This type of confusion can result in falls, as the person may try to wander around the house at strange times of day or night. During the night, they may be tired, groggy and disoriented, increasing the risk of a fall.

Devices like simple clocks and medication dispensers can help to provide regular reassurance and simple information on the time. They can also help to build routines more effectively, to prevent day/night confusion. Similarly, other simple dementia technology (such as easy to use phones) can provide an easy way to contact a loved one in the event of a fall. Also, it’s a great way to keep in touch with loved ones, preventing dementia side effects like depression and loneliness.

 

Sources: NHS, NHS Inform

Fall Prevention at Home

Fall prevention - falls in the elderly - house icon

Falls in the elderly can happen just as easily in the safety of the home, but there are many simple measures that can be taken to ensure the likelihood of falls is reduced indoors.

 

One idea is to “shadow” your loved one for a morning or day to see where they tend to move around, and make a note of places where you think falls might be more likely to help focus your fall prevention plans.

 

Focusing on fall prevention in the most common places where a fall in an elderly person could occur first is certainly the best first step. Before long, the rest of your home will be perfectly organised for fall prevention too!

Home Organisation & Improvement

Better Home Organisation

Moving commonly used things from high shelves or cupboards can help to reduce the risk of falls. This is because it prevents people from over-reaching into awkward places, injuring muscles, or using sometimes unsafe tools such as ladders or step-stools. Consider purchasing something like a grabber if you regularly need to reach for things on higher shelves, or even to reach things more comfortably when sitting down (to avoid standing up and risking a fall). Better still, move regularly-used items to a more easily reached place.

Keep items that are in particularly slippery places within easy reaching distance especially. For example, don’t put soap in the shower up high or down low. Keep soap or other toiletries in easy reach to avoid unnecessary movements on slippery surfaces. A toiletry holder that sticks to the wall in the shower can be a great way to ensure things like shampoo and soap are easy to reach and at the right height, whilst not requiring any drilling or screws to install.

Home Improvements

Fall prevention in the elderly is all about anticipating falls before they happen, and adding measures to protect against them. Therefore, it’s important to think about the places someone will move through or stand on during their day-to-day life. Showers or baths, for example, are places where most people will spend some time each day.

 

You can then use this information to implement some fall preventing improvements around their home. We've given a few ideas below, but don't be afraid to think outside the box!

 

Stairs

If someone has fallen on the stairs, have an extra bannister fitted, or possibly a stairlift. Sometimes home improvements can be expensive, but are well worth the investment to prevent a fall in the elderly.

 

If you have a disability, you may even be eligible for government support in purchasing these sorts of improvements. However, in the worst case scenario it may be that stairs themselves become too much of a danger to an elderly person.

If this is the case, it may be worth looking into property downsizing. Many people move to smaller properties such as bungalows as they get older. This makes their homes simpler to navigate, entirely removing the risk of falls on the stairs. Getting around the house is then a little bit easier, and this improves fall prevention around the home.


Sources: GOV.UK

Bathroom

If someone has fallen in the bathroom before or is at a great risk of doing so, consider having some accessibility features added, such as a grab rail or shower seat. A shower seat is especially handy, as it can avoid the at-risk person standing on slippery surfaces unnecessarily.

 

Weaker knees from old age also create a bigger risk of falling. This is because the added balance and grip needed in a slippery place like the shower puts extra strain on the knees, therefore putting older people at a significant risk of falls. A shower seat is therefore both a welcome and necessary addition to any older person’s bathroom.

Having weaker knees can also make it riskier to step in and out of baths. However, specialised baths with doors in the side can be purchased to prevent any unnecessary hurdling over the side of the bath, reducing the chance of slipping and falling for older people.

motion sensor night light

If someone is going to the toilet frequently during the night, have a doctor check them for possible infections. It can often be very quick and easy to get treatment, giving both relief and comfort, as well as contributing towards fall prevention in the home!

 

Even then, consider installing some sort of motion-activated light to light their path to the bathroom at night-time. This will avoid them tripping or losing their footing in the dark.

An elderly monitoring system can also help with this by showing how frequently they’re going to the bathroom during the night. This can show when a fall is likely to occur, and also identify the possible presence of a UTI. This kind of condition not only affects a person's quality of life, but can greatly increase the risk of falls.

Try placing anti-slip mats in the shower or on polished/smooth surfaces. This reduces the likelihood of falls happening in places where injuries may be more likely, or where help is harder to summon.

 

Many modern showers will have an anti-slip surface installed by default, but not everyone has a brand new shower. Some people may shower using an overhead nozzle whilst standing in the bath, for example. This is often a very slippery surface, and will certainly make a fall in an elderly person more likely. Focus on placing mats here, or maybe replace your slippery bathtubs with a stand-up shower and shower seat.

If they prefer taking baths, perhaps remove the overhead shower nozzle altogether. However, make sure to place non-slip mats on the floor by the bath to prevent slipping when getting out. Handrails along the bath can also help with avoiding slipping when getting in.

Flooring

Have slippery surfaces replaced with carpet where possible to help avoid slipping. Polished surfaces, hardwood floors or tiles can all increase the risk of a fall in the home’s elderly occupant, so the investment is well worth it to improve fall prevention around the house.

 

Garden pathways can also be major slipping hazards in the winter. Try keeping a bag of grit salt in the shed, and spread it on outdoor walkways around the house when the weather starts getting colder. Grit salt is fairly cheap, and could be the simple solution you need in preventing a nasty fall in the elderly outdoors.

Trip & Slip Hazards

 

Tripping or slipping are very common causes of falls, and trip/slip hazards around the home are often easy to miss. Simple loose cables or out of place objects can lead to nasty falls in the elderly, so remember to follow the guidance below when improving fall prevention around the home.

Cables & Wires

Ensure no cables or wires are running across walkways in the home. If you need a cable to run to a different room, consider looking into safe cable management. For example, cable trunking can make it easier to feed longer cables between rooms in a subtle and safe manner.

Rugs & Mats

Keep rugs or mats fully flat, and try to keep them only in places where they’re needed. For example, for wiping your feet by the door, or to give grip on more slippery surfaces (like kitchen tiles). Even when stuck down or well-placed, they are still one of the main causes of falls in the elderly around the home.

 

Therefore, it may be better to get rid of the rug altogether and donate it to a family member or charity, to ensure it goes to a good home!

Loose Objects

Remove objects lying around e.g. slippers at the top of the stairs. Keeping tidy isn’t just a good habit, it can also be great for fall prevention! Even a simple shoe rack or smart storage solution could prevent a fall in the elderly, so think about investing in some storage methods around the home.

 

Keep storage at a normal height, not too high, but not too low either. This helps to avoid stretching for things, or leaning over and potentially falling. A fabric shoe rack on the back of a door, or a storage box designed to be tucked away out of sight can both be great ways to keep obstacles off the floor. This not only improves fall prevention, but keeps your home that little bit neater!

Slippery Floors & Bad Footwear

Polished wooden floors, especially if walking around in normal socks or tights, could lead to a dangerous fall in the elderly. As fun as it can be to slide around in your socks, try to wear slippers or comfy indoor shoes to improve your grip instead!

However, not every kind of slipper or shoe will be safe enough to use when trying to prevent falls! The only thing between your body and the floor is your footwear, so ensure your shoes or slippers are giving you maximum stability and balance. Loose footwear or backless slippers can easily come off or be tripped over, for example.

 

Think outside the box, and perhaps grab a pair of slipper socks with a grippy bottom so that you can ditch the slippers entirely. Safe shoes have strong ankle support, don’t come easily undone (velcro is good for this) and are easy to get on and off with restricted mobility. Avoid unnecessary stretching when tying laces, which could also risk a fall in the elderly occurring!

Pets

We all love our pets, but they can be a big trip hazard too. You could try to train them to stay in another room, or avoid getting younger, more energetic animals.

 

Training your dog to sit or stay on command can also be a big help, meaning they won’t get in your way quite as much, or won’t move around too much near your feet.

Loose pet toys lying around on the floor also act as a tripping hazard. Similarly, feeding bowls and litter trays can be tripped over easily, so try to put these and any toys away neatly when your pet is finished with them. Avoiding getting a pet altogether may be necessary in drastic situations, but often isn’t necessary if other fall prevention methods are followed properly!

Reacting to Falls in the Elderly

fall prevention - falls in the elderly - man answering phone

 

Even with the right preparation, there’s always a chance that a fall can occur. If a fall does happen, it’s important to have the right plan in place to react as quickly as possible.

Why Is a Quick Response so Important?

 

When falls aren’t reacted to quickly, the faller may be stuck on their own for a long time. This leads to more pain and suffering from any incurred injuries, as well much more distress overall. This is sometimes referred to as a “long lie”. 

 

A long lie is most common when the faller can't get up or call for help themselves, and are relying on someone discovering they have fallen. Being stuck on the floor for a long time after a fall can have several dire consequences. In rare cases, it can even be life-threatening.

Slow responses to falling incidents are not out of the ordinary, like in a shocking UK case wherein a man’s mother was left on the floor with a broken hip after a fall, and lay there without medical attention for 7 hours.

 

Mark Clements, the fall victim’s son, was able to take a bus, the London tube and two trains to get from London to Exmouth in 3 hours and 40 minutes, and still arrived 50 minutes before any ambulance was on the scene (despite his mother living only 10 minutes from an ambulance station).

Some of the complications a long lie can cause are:

    • Delayed medical treatment - Leading to pain, distress and panic.
    • Dehydration - Possibly life-threatening, especially if the faller has been injured and doesn’t have regular visits from family or carers to alert that a fall has occurred.
    • Rhabdomyolysis - Muscle and tissue damage caused by injury to the muscles, or compression of the muscles. This can happen when lying on a hard surface for a long time after a fall. The syndrome causes muscle fibers to die and release into the bloodstream, possibly leading to fatal kidney failures.
    • Pressure injuries - Compression from lying down for too long can cause pressure ulcers, resulting in severe pain and discomfort.
    • Carpet burns - Friction burns resulting in painfully sore skin.
    • Hypothermia - Especially common if falls occur in winter, or in the houses of those who struggle with keeping the heating on constantly. This is common in those living in poverty, or  those whose house’s water heating systems have broken. Government help is often available for those living with limited means. Similarly, any technical faults with a heating system should be seen right away by a boiler technician.
    • Pneumonia - Falling can lead to rib fractures, which can greatly increase the chance of pneumonia being contracted. In over 65s, rib fractures increase the likelihood of developing pneumonia by 27%, and the risk of death by around 20%. This is because rib fractures can lead to the victim taking partial breaths, causing the air sacs in the further reaches of the lungs to collapse. This greatly increases the chance of infections, leading to possible pneumonia.

 

Sources: BBC, Citizens Advice, JAMA Network

Ways to React

 

In places where falls are more likely around the house, keep small furniture or objects in easy reach. After a less-severe fall, some people may be able to prop themselves back up if there’s something to support them.

If they’re able to use one or are confident enough with technology, make sure the at-risk person has a mobile phone on them. Even if they’re not confident, our extra simple mobile phone is a great lifeline for contacting loved ones, nearby neighbours or emergency services in the event of a less-severe fall.

 

With three simple speed-dial buttons at the front, this can be a rapid way to summon help in the event of a fall. Perhaps set the number of a nearby loved one, or even a neighbour who can respond in the event of a fall.

In case of more severe falls, a fall detector is certainly the best way to go. For example, our wall mounted fall detector can detect a fall and alert loved ones in a matter of seconds, drastically reducing response times. In the case of a severe fall, the person who has fallen probably won’t be able to alert people themselves. However, smart fall detection systems like this can help to give you total peace of mind.

How Can I be Alerted Quickly?

Even after reading about the causes of falls, the potential risks and even the prevention strategies, one question still remains:

 

“How can I react fastest to falls in the elderly?”

 

The simple and honest answer is that a perfect solution is hard to come by. Fall prevention strategies can reduce the chances of falls in the elderly occurring, but they don’t eliminate this chance completely. In the event of a fall occurring, it’s important to react fast to ensure the faller receives help urgently.

 

The problem with this is that the only way to summon help is either for the elderly fall victim to notify someone themselves (which may not be possible if they’re injured, unconscious, or have fallen out of reach of a phone), or for helpers to be alerted automatically when a fall in the elderly individual is detected.

Alerts can happen in a few different ways when a fall in an elderly person is detected. Different devices offering various methods of alerts, such as:

  • Calling loved ones
  • Being set to call or alert carers or other pre-set contacts
  • Placing a call or alert with a monitoring service in the event of a fall

Wearable Fall Detection - A Thing of the Past?

 

Wearable technology has long been considered the best option in detection systems for falls in the elderly. For example, our fall alarm system uses the popular vibby wristband to detect falls with ease. This simple and stylish wristband detects hard falls, and alerts loved ones of the situation using an advanced home hub.

 

Many people may also use a personal alarm variant without the vibby, using having a pendant they press in the event of an emergency. This can also be worn on the wrist or around the neck, but the vibby wrist-worn fall detector is certainly the more advanced and popular of the two choices.

This is because the vibby variant allows for hard falls to be detected automatically, whereas a personal alarm pendant requires the person who has fallen to press an emergency button to begin alerting their contacts or a monitoring centre. If they had a fall and became unconscious, the personal alarm pendant on its own would not be able to assist with this.

 

As you can imagine, this could have dire consequences in the case of a very severe fall.

The vibby-based system will call loved ones, carers and other people when a hard fall in the elderly is detected. This narrows the crucial response window and prevents possible life-threatening complications from the fall.

However, the issue with falls in the elderly is that no two falls are ever the same. Falls in the elderly can be hard or soft, and can occur in any room of the house. They're possible on any type of surface, and can result in a wide variety of different injuries.

 

A wearable fall system like the vibby will sense things like sudden vibrations or rapid verticality changes. This is fantastic for detecting hard falls, but not great for detecting softer falls. For example, falls in the elderly can occur due to a sudden event, such as a heart attack. In these situations, the individual may clutch on to a nearby piece of furniture instinctively. They will then likely slump to the floor slowly as they lose function in their limbs.

 

 

"Over 9,000 people each year die after being the victim of a fall"

- Age UK

A slumping fall could occur due to a less serious incident too, for example a sudden muscle cramp or dizziness. During most falls in the elderly, the person falling will try to steady themselves by grabbing on to nearby furniture. This often results in slow and slumping falls being very common.

 

In this type of situation, when the person who has fallen is unable to call for help and desperately needs it, or just when a hard fall hasn’t occurred, a Vibby detector (as well as any mainstream fall detector) would struggle to identify the fall. This is because it will be trying to detect a hard impact, and would not detect a slumping fall.

Furthermore, if the person has had a slumping fall but isn’t hurt or in immediate danger, they may not choose to press their emergency pendant manually or call for help. Some may simply be unable to get back to their feet, and don’t wish to bother their emergency contacts or cause a “fuss” after a softer fall.

 

Others may have a personal alarm in place, but forget or refuse to wear it. If they’ve been told their alert system is only for emergencies, this may also discourage them from calling for help during a less severe fall.  Many people also forget their emergency option in the stress of the situation or due to memory issues like dementia, so they never manually trigger an alert and are left laying on the floor for hours at a time.

This may all sound unlikely, because after all, who wouldn’t want to trigger an alert after having a fall? However, studies conducted on elderly people at risk of falls have found that only 32% of fallers activated their personal alarms in an emergency (with 56% of those emergencies being classed as falls).

 

So what's the best solution, you might ask?

 

Sources: Age UK, NCBI, Stuff Magazine NZ

The Future of Fall Detection Is Now!

 

Here at TechSilver, we always work hard to stay at the cutting edge of assistive technology. Falls in the elderly and fall prevention are huge focal points in our efforts. Our newest device is a revolutionary way to react to elderly people falling. The system is able to detect slower falls or slumps, and can even alert loved ones or other responders to the fall if the person who has fallen is unconscious and unable to call for help themselves.

 

This is the wall-mounted fall detection alarm, our ground-breaking new fall detection system. The wall-mounted fall detection alarm learns the layout of the room, and acts as a 24/7 guardian against falls.

The wall-mounted fall detection alarm respects your loved ones’ privacy whilst ensuring their safety. It doesn't use a camera to detect falls, but instead maps the room with 4D imaging to develop a clear sense of the living space’s shape and layout. This picks up the user’s movement patterns, and even things like their usual sitting spot on the sofa! If the user falls over, the wall-mounted fall detection alarm will see this, and will rapidly get in touch with any emergency contacts.

 

This is a new standard in elderly fall response technology; technology that can change and improve lives right now.

 

We’re proud to be leading the way at TechSilver in helping to reduce the devastating effects of falls in the elderly.

Summing Up...

 

Falling can be scary as an older person, but with the right fall prevention methods in place, any fears can be alleviated with ease.

 

Technology for reacting to falls in the elderly has changed the way we respond to these sorts of incidents forever. However, making the best decision about how to react to falls around the home can be a difficult and confusing process. There are countless guides full of advice, with many different recommendations regarding the best courses of action. However, very few go on to offer the further advice of a friendly tech expert.

 

This is where we come in.

 

At TechSilver, we believe in offering dedicated, friendly and personal service. This way, we ensure that each and every one of our valued customers gets the expert advice they need quickly and easily.

 

For advice on detecting and reacting to falls in your elderly loved ones, you can contact us in any of the following ways:

 

Give us a call: +44 (0)3300 10 14 18

Send us an emailhello@techsilver.co.uk

Opening hours: Monday - Friday 9:30AM - 6PM