Drive to cut the number of falls among older people in Sunderland

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ELDERLY people, their relatives and carers are being offered tips on staying on their feet as Falls Awareness Week gets under way.

This year’s campaign is focussed on keeping feet healthy to maintain mobility and independence.

Fall prevention specialists from South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust – which includes Wearside – believe taking care of feet is “an essential part of falls prevention”.

Conditions such as bunions, claw toes and ingrown toenails, they claim, cause problems with gait and balance.

They are encouraging the elderly to regularly check their feet, and to contact their GP, podiatrist or chiropodist if they notice anything unusual.

Deborah Porter, falls nurse specialist for Sunderland, said: “Around a third of over-65s, and half of those over 80, fall every year and falls can have potentially devastating consequences, which can be anything from fractures and head injuries to loss of confidence and independence. Our aim is to raise awareness of the many simple things that older people can do to prevent falls.

“For example, exercises can make feet and ankles stronger, and significantly improve balance.

“Some footwear can increase the risk of falls, so it is advisable to wear well-fitting shoes, preferably with a high back to support the ankle and a hard, slip-resistant sole, to give improved support.

“We also stress the importance of a balanced diet rich in calcium, to build and maintain healthy bones, and of getting enough vitamin D, which is essential for the absorption of calcium, through exposure to the sun.”