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An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Elderly Falls Risk Assessment: What You Need to Know

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

It’s well known that falls are one of the most serious risks elderly people face. They can have significant impacts on older people’s health, as the NHS guidance on falls notes. What might be less well known is that seniors who fall are more likely to fall again. That’s why experts like NICE recommend that medical professionals investigate why an older person’s fall occurred and how future falls could be prevented.

This process is called a falls risk assessment. In this post, we’ll discuss what might be included in it, how and when to seek one and what might happen after the assessment.

What is a falls risk assessment?

A falls risk examines all the factors that could be involved in causing a person to fall. Obviously, that includes details to do with moving around, like strength and balance. However, it also includes other factors you might not think of. For example, since older people might fall while rushing to go to the toilet at night, the assessment looks at continence issues as well.

According to NICE recommendations about assessments for falls risk, medical professionals should also consider other elements including:

  • Vision problems
  • Thinking and cognitive problems
  • Medications
  • Details of past falls.

Additionally, the assessment should look at problems in the home environment that could contribute to the risk of falls in elderly residents. The NHS refers to this as a home hazard assessment, and it might involve a healthcare worker visiting your home to look for changes that can be made.

Lastly, since the assessment is about all aspects of risk relating to falls, it doesn’t just look at an older person’s risk of falling. It looks into the risks of harm that could result from a fall. For example, it asks about an older person’s bone strength or osteoporosis. It examines an older person’s feelings about their own likelihood of falling, too, since a senior can suffer a fear of falling or moving around after a serious fall.

It’s important to note that often just one of these factors isn’t the sole reason for a fall. Muscle weakness, dizziness from a medication and a loose rug on the floor could all work together to cause an elderly person’s fall.

When might a senior need an assessment?

There are two main reasons why an older person might need a falls risk assessment:

  • They have fallen recently (in the past year)
  • They have difficulties with walking or balance that may cause a fall.

It’s always wise to plan and think ahead, so it’s smart to get an assessment proactively for older people who are at risk of falling. You can also get a fall detection alarm that will call for help if a fall does happen.

For older people who have fallen once already, it’s essential that they receive a falls risk assessment to prevent history from repeating. As we’ve mentioned, the risk of falls in elderly people is notably higher for those who have fallen already.

How can you obtain an assessment?

The NHS resource on falls explains that there are several ways for you to obtain a falls risk assessment and perhaps other help about falling.

One way to do this is simply to talk to your GP. Your GP might do a basic version of the assessment themself or help you access further resources. You could also contact the integrated care board, or ICB, in your area.

Another option is to look on Google for a falls prevention service near you. These services are typically equipped to perform full assessments and provide other care related to fall risks. In fact, your GP might refer you to one of these services if you contact their surgery first.

What might happen after an assessment?

What happens next depends significantly on what the assessment finds. For example, if an older person struggles to move about safely, the doctor might recommend that they do exercises for stability or attend postural stability classes. If medications are causing dizziness or light-headedness, an elderly person might be put on a different medication.

It's also worth remembering that although the risk of falls in elderly people can be reduced, it can’t be totally eliminated. For that reason, an elderly personal alarm can be a great second layer of protection. A simple one-touch alarm worn as a pendant or wrist alarm allows a senior to call for help instantly by pressing just one button. For seniors who live alone or are afraid of falling and being unable to get up, an alarm can provide great reassurance.

A fall detection alarm even senses a fall and calls for help all on its own, without any input needed from the wearer. With a fall detection alarm, it doesn’t matter if an older person is unconscious – the alarm will raise the alert anyway.

How SureSafe alarms protect seniors at risk of falls

It’s an unavoidable fact that there is a greater risk of falls in elderly people. However, there are lots of steps that seniors can take to reduce this risk. With the help of a falls risk assessment, older people and their families can get guidance about what to do – whether that’s doing leg exercises, adapting their home or even addressing dehydration – a common cause of dizziness in seniors with dementia. After all, since we know that fall risk comes from multiple factors, it makes sense that the solution should involve multiple approaches.

An elderly personal alarm from SureSafe can be a great addition to this strategy for decreasing fall risk. While it can’t prevent a fall, it can prevent a “long lie” – the dangerous and upsetting experience of lying on the floor for a long time and being unable to get up.

At SureSafe, we’re specialists in easy-to-use, affordable and highly rated alarms that are great for providing peace of mind to seniors who have fallen or are at risk of falls. We’d be happy to chat with you about how our personal alarms can help protect you or your family member when the risk of falls is a concern. You can reach out to our expert team by phone at 0800 112 3201, through our live chat or by requesting a call back.

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