Are falls a problem?
In Western Australia someone dies every 26 hours, is admitted to hospital every 19 minutes and presents to an emergency department every 12 minutes due to a falls-related injury.
Falls place a significant burden on the WA healthcare system, being the leading cause of injury hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in 2018.
The impact of falls extends beyond these figures as it influences the individual and their family through potential loss of mobility, reduced activity levels, social isolation, poorer quality of life, and fear of re-occurrences.
How can we reduce falls?
Falls can happen at any age; however, changes we go through as we get older can put us more at risk of having a fall.
The good news is that falls are preventable, and Stay On Your Feet® has simple tips and tools you can use to keep you active and on your feet.
Three simple steps to prevent falls are:
Moving Your Body is one of the best ways to prevent falls.
Moving your body will improve your balance and posture, strengthen your muscles and bones and improve your overall fitness and general wellbeing.
Build your balance and strengthen your legs by completing a variety of activities every day.
Maintaining your overall health and wellbeing is a key component of a multifactorial falls prevention strategy.
Alongside the impact of existing co-morbidities, diet, medication intake and cognitive ability can all influence your risk of having a fall.
To reduce your risk of having a fall, eat regular meals from a variety of food groups, participate in activities that keep your mind active and have your medications reviewed every year.
In 2018 over half of all falls-related hospitalisations in WA occurred within a home or an aged care facility, reinforcing the need for your home to be our ‘safe place’. Hazards in the home can come in a variety of forms, which is why it is important to check your home for hazards regularly to avoid a fall.
When combined with poor vision and unsafe footwear our risk of a hazard-related fall increases. Remember to speak to your GP or Optometrist if you notice any changes in your eyesight and to always wear good shoes that support your feet.
What happens if I fall?
It is not always possible to predict if you will fall or how you might fall. If you do have a fall it is important not to panic, assess the situation and decide whether or not you can get up safely on your own. If you can’t get up safely, make sure you get somebody’s attention and ask them for assistance.
Falls do not always result in serious injuries, but it is important to treat all injuries, including cuts and scrapes.
Your fall may have occurred due to a range of reasons. To assess if you have been hurt or are likely to experience a fall in the future, visit your GP for an assessment. Your GP can then refer you onto other services if required.
Organisations and programs
Injury Matters Falls Resources
- Injury Matters: Sweeney, R., Meade, R. and Visser, M. (2020). 2020 Western Australian Falls Report. Perth, Western Australia: Injury Matters.