Nearly 500,000 people over the age of 65 fall every year. The consequences for these seniors are both physical and psychological and are extremely damaging. How can this risk be prevented? With Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of Ouihelp, Innorehab takes stock of the priorities for addressing this key issue.
450,000 people over the age of 65 fall every year. 37% require hospitalisation. Studies also show that these domestic accidents contribute greatly to the fragility of the individuals concerned: the risk of falling is multiplied by 20 after a first fall. Under these conditions, preventing this type of accident is a key aspect of the well-being and maintenance of the autonomy of senior citizens.
Here are 4 ways to avoid falling at home.
The fact is that the risk of falling increases with age. Because ageing leads to a loss of musculature and less adaptation to external perceptions, senior citizens are the first to be affected. These falls have a major impact on the quality of life of the people concerned. A report on the subject, commissioned by the French National Authority for Health (HAS), stresses the consequences for an elderly person, often including "a fracture of the upper end of the femur, which is indirectly responsible for a high mortality rate in the months that follow". Independently of this risk, such accidents have a strong psychological impact: they generate anxiety and reduce self-confidence.
1. Awareness and anticipation
How to act in the face of this risk? The fact is that it is never easy to become aware of one's fragility. However, anticipation is a determining factor. At the age of 65, as at 90, it is essential to be attentive, for oneself as well as for one's family, to the warning signs. Starting with the first of these: encountering difficulties in performing gestures in a 100% autonomous manner. "The challenge is to take measures beforehand, rather than afterwards, once dependency has set in," says Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of OuiHelp, a company specialising in home help for dependent elderly people. One of the keys is that family carers need to better understand and accept what is possible and necessary to support their loved ones. In fact, the risk of falling is increased by both internal factors (illness, reduced physical capacity, treatment, etc.) and external factors, such as slipping outside or in the living room.
2. Adapting your home to limit the risks
Falls at home are often linked to inadequate home design. Adapting a home therefore starts with turning a bathtub into a shower. Removing slippery objects, installing a lighted pathway to find your way around at night: these measures can be decisive. For optimal support, it is possible to call on the services of an occupational therapist, a specialist who will rethink the layout of the home to create the conditions for long-term home support.
3. Using a walking aid
Awareness is the key to being able to benefit from support. Recognising that you need help to move around is a first step towards saving your life. Made of wood, metal, English... the cane has been used for several centuries. Although it requires only one hand to handle, it has the disadvantage of having to be lifted with each step and is therefore by nature an intermittent solution. Other aids have appeared in recent decades, such as walking frames (gadot, stand, walker, etc.) or with wheels (rollators, walkers). These solutions greatly improve balance, but have the disadvantage of requiring two able-bodied upper limbs and having a volume that prevents them from being used in small spaces. This observation led to the launch in 2018 of a third way, combining the qualities of the rollator and the cane: the Wheeleo. The first quadripod cane with wheels, a real one-handed walker, its use greatly limits the risk of falling, by offering a new walking experience.
4. Calling for personalised help
As a preventive measure, if the risk is significant, one option for frail people may be to receive human support. A home help company can provide valuable support to a person whose physical abilities are declining. Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay explains: "The home care assistant can carry out all sorts of tasks, à la carte: doing the shopping, accompanying the person to medical appointments in particular, coming in the morning and evening to help with getting up and going to bed, or providing, with others, round-the-clock support. Depending on the person's situation, it can provide valuable support in addition to the many other forms of assistance available.
For more information of the Wheeleo: see here.
 HAS : Prevention of accidental falls in the elderly - Recommendations; November 2005