Time to take falls seriously

Laura Langmann speaks with Westmead Hospital physiotherapist Michelle Lam about the importance of falls prevention. Visitors were engaged as part of an information stall manned by Westmead Hospital staff.

Falls are a major cause of harm to older people.

Falls are often overlooked, which is why April Falls Month is an annual opportunity to highlight the risks of falling which can include life-long injury or even death.

Peter Talbot, Department Head; Dietetics and Nutrition said the theme of this year’s April Falls Month is centred around the importance of adequate nutrition and hydration.

“Eating healthy food and having a balance diet with adequate energy and protein is important for maintaining muscle mass and muscle strength, to reduce the risk of muscle-wasting frailty and fall-related injury,” Amy Maitland, Senior Physiotherapist said.

“A fall can be devastating for older people – it can make them fearful of falling again, which stops them doing the things they used to do. This can lead to social isolation and even depression.”

Deputy Director of Nursing & Midwifery Alecia Daly said Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) facilities are committed to ensuring patients, their families and carers are provided with information on how to prevent falls, as well as the risks associated with falls.

“WSLHD is also ensuring patients, families and carers are involved in the development of strategies to prevent a fall in our hospitals.”

If you are feeling unsteady on your feet don’t wait until you have a fall to tell your family, or health professional. Here are some tips to avoid a fall:

  • Improve your strength and balance – ask your doctor or nurse to recommend an appropriate program or exercises that are right for you
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to review your medicines
  • Get annual eye check-ups and update your glasses
  • Make your home safer by removing clutter and tripping hazzards, including mats and rugs
  • Install railings on stairs at home and grab bars in the bathroom and toilets
  • Have good lighting, especially on stairs

If you’d like information about falls prevention, visit the Clinical Excellence Commission website.