October Blog: Stand up to the risk of falls
It’s a sad fact that by the time you have finished reading this, someone in Derbyshire will probably have had a fall.
There are more than 50,000 falls across our county every year. Not all lead to serious injury, but on average there are ten fractures every day – including three broken hips. Older people are especially vulnerable. So how can you reduce the risk?
NHS Choices provides an overview of falls. There’s information about what causes a fall – such as balance problems, muscle weakness, poor vision or low blood pressure – plus an easy-to-use tool to assess your own risk.
We have an excellent Strictly No Falling prevention service locally, providing appropriate exercise to improve strength, balance and coordination. National recommendations state that we should all be active daily and try to do at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week, to strengthen our muscles and bones.
Community pharmacists in Derbyshire are proud to be playing a part, having campaigned successfully to raise awareness of osteoporosis, which increases the risk of broken bones. It’s World Osteoporosis Day on 20th October, so why not support the National Osteoporosis Society with their #laceupforbones fundraising?
The charity’s website offers excellent support to osteoporosis sufferers, for whom bone-strengthening medication is essential. Talk to your pharmacist too, because certain medicines and combinations significantly increase the risk of falls. Unnecessary prescribing, drug interactions and side-effects can all do more harm than good.
Extensive work on this has been done in the US, where the so-called Beers List is designed to help improve the safety of prescribing in older adults.
Pharmacists can also offer relevant guidance on lifestyle and hazards in the home. In a Falls Prevention Service by community pharmacy in Doncaster:
- 95% of patients reviewed were taking one or more ‘high-risk’ medicines, 32% were experiencing fall-inducing side effects, 22% had fallen in the past year
- 10% were referred to a specialist falls clinic
- Over 50% who had suffered a previous fragility fracture had not been prescribed medicines which help prevent bone loss
Commissioners – THINK PHARMACY as part of an effective solution to the ever-increasing costs associated with falls. It will improve patient outcomes too.
Patients – ask your pharmacist for advice on falls and falls prevention – because with a pharmacist, you always know where you stand!