Don't be a fool, do a full falls review!

This week has seen Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This is a topic that I feel is extremely important, particularly in the care of older people, as they are not only common, but can also have disastrous outcomes.  Approximately 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 years will experience a fall each year, and 1 in 2 of those aged over 80 years.  And the risk increases even further for those who have already experienced a fall.  Falls can result in a loss of independence and are the most common cause of emergency admissions and deaths from injury in older people.

Did you know that medicines can contribute to falls?  This is important to consider, as older people are more likely to experience polypharmacy (being prescribed 5 or more medicines). The CHUMS study found that individuals living in care homes were prescribed on average 7 medicines, and I have found similar.

The British Geriatric Society have created a useful list of medicines that are associated with a high risk of fallsIndividuals living in care homes are also more likely to be prescribed these high risk medicines. For example, it has been found that 1 in 5 individuals living in care homes are prescribed antipsychotics in published research, and again, I have found the same.  I have done some exploratory work looking at the prescribing of these in care homes (see above), in which I found around 3/4 of individuals to be prescribed at least one of these, with one individual prescribed 10.

NICE provide guidance on assessing and managing falls risk. Successfully reducing the risk of falls requires a variety of measures - and therefore good collaboration between a variety of health, allied health, pharmacy and social care professionals.  So, on this Falls Prevention Awareness week and beyond, let's all work together to reduce the risk of falls - and the devastating consequences.

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