Swansea, UK — As people age, they become more prone to falling. Falls can occur frequently and cause harm, such as head injuries and hip fractures.
A fall is an incident that does not result from a significant intrinsic event (like a stroke) or an overwhelming hazard. Anyone can experience a fall; it is an unfortunate but typical side effect of human anatomy.
What Does the Data Say?
In the UK, osteoporosis affects over 3 million people, who are much more likely to experience fragility fractures. Low-level (or "low energy" trauma") trauma refers to fractures caused by mechanical forces that would not typically cause a fracture.
Without including the high cost of social care, hip fractures alone account for 1.8 million hospital bed days and £1.1 billion in annual hospital costs.
The risk of falling is highest in people over 65. About one-third of those over 65 and about half of those over 80 fall at least once annually. Distress, pain, injury, loss of self-assurance, loss of independence, and even death can result from falling.
Health services are both expensive and in high demand. In terms of cost and yearly activity:
- According to the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF), there were approximately 220,160 emergency hospital admissions involving falls among patients aged 65 and over from 2017 to 2018; about 146,665 (66.6%) of these patients were aged 80 and over.
- In 2013, falls were England's most common injury and the ninth-highest cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
- According to estimates, fall hazards in homes in England would cost the NHS £435 million.
- Hip fractures account for about £2 billion of the estimated £4.4 billion annual cost of fragility fractures in the UK, including £1.1 billion for social care.
- Following a hip fracture, patients typically have poor short- and long-term prognoses, with an 18–33% increase in one-year mortality and adverse effects on daily activities like walking and shopping.
- In the first year following a hip fracture, about 20% of patients enrolled in long-term care, according to a review of long-term disability.
- More than 240,000 falls in hospitals were reported in acute hospitals and mental health trusts in England and Wales, making them the most frequently reported patient safety incident.
Falls in the Elderly in Residential Care
Because of the potential for injuries and long-term disabilities that such falls may cause, the risk of falls among the elderly is a significant public health concern. Even in residential care, it can be challenging to deliver preventive interventions.
In the UK, there are currently 400,000 people living in care homes, most of whom are at a high risk of falling, according to data. It comes at a high cost to society and places additional strain on the emergency rooms and ambulance services that comprise the health and social care systems.
Around 25% of falls among residents of nursing homes result in serious injuries, and 40% of hospital admissions from nursing homes are due to falls.
Preventing Falls in Residential Care in 2021
Trials to prevent falls frequently fail, most likely due to this complexity and the context of the care facility. Designing and implementing research interventions that significantly impact residents' and their supporters' lives can be challenging.
Despite these challenges, the study by Logan and colleagues is a well-described and presented trial of a complex intervention connected to a notable decrease in falls among older adults living in long-term residential care in the United Kingdom.
The authors enrolled 84 care homes (median size: 40 beds) and used a cluster randomisation design. Of these, 39 were randomly assigned to a multifactorial fall prevention program and 45 to usual care. Participants made up 50% of all residents, with a mean age of 85.
A minority of the participants had diabetes, a stroke, or coronary heart disease, and two-thirds of the residents had dementia. All care homes—all but one—completed the 12-month follow-up. More than 81% of residents with fall data finished their follow-up after six months, and 65% quit after twelve.
The results are:
- There is a 37% decrease in falls among participants in the intervention arm.
- Additionally, the authors noted a non-significant decline in the proportion of participants who fell.
- Both the functioning and mortality of the participants were unaffected by the intervention. It seemed to be a cost-effective way to prevent falls.
Falls are a Growing Worldwide Problem
WHO reveals the following data:
- The second most common reason for unintentional injury deaths worldwide is fall.
- Over 80% of the estimated 684 000 people who die from falls each year around the world do so in low- and middle-income nations.
- The majority of fatal falls occur in adults over the age of 60.
- Each year, there are 37.3 million falls that are serious enough to need medical attention.
- Education, training, safer environments, prioritising fall-related research, and creating efficient policies should all be emphasised in prevention strategies.
However, even if a fall does not result in death, it can still have serious side effects like broken bones and increased anxiety, which can significantly affect morbidity and quality of life.
Fear of falling can make people less active, which lowers physical fitness and raises the risk of falling, creating a vicious cycle of declining health and isolating behaviours.
CPR Guardian is Also Taking Action
One of the most effective ways to prevent falls is through personal alarms. According to a review, wearable technology provides a precise, affordable way to detect falls and call for assistance. These devices' efficacy varies significantly depending on the kind of device and where it is placed.
These are the top features of the CPR Guardian Fall Detection Watch:
- The built-in mobile phone's SOS button lets the wearer immediately call five pre-set contacts.
- Every 10 minutes, Guardian records the wearer's heart rate and sends the information directly to the CPR Monitoring APP. By connecting to all major mobile networks, the embedded CPR Chameleon SIM card offers unmatched connectivity throughout the UK and the EU.
- The Guardian 3 movement sensor constantly monitors changes in the wearer's movement.
- Using the CPR Guardian mobile APP for Android and Apple / iOS, family and caregivers can remotely check the wearer's whereabouts and health.
- The watch will send its GPS location directly to the carer's smartphone APP.
- People can wear the personal alarm watch in the shower, where the risk of falling is more significant.
CPR Guardian has been designing and manufacturing telecoms products for over 10 years. Since 2010, we have helped over 1,000,000 people stay safe inside and outside their homes. We support customers and their families across the UK, USA, and the rest of the world.