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Falls Awareness Week 2014

During Falls Awareness Week (16 – 22 June), NHS Lambeth CCG is raising awareness of what you can do to prevent a fall, and what you should do if one happens.

Around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls. While most of these falls don't cause serious injury, they can still be a cause of injury and sometimes death. As well as physical injuries like broken bones, falls can also knock your confidence and make it harder to keep your independence.

Anyone can have a fall, but older people are more vulnerable than others. Although you might think that falls are just an inevitable part of growing older, there are lots of things you can do to prevent them. For example, check your home for hazards, such as poor lighting, wires and wet or slippy surfaces. It's also a good idea to have your eyes checked regularly; this will help to identify any difficulties with your prescription or vision that may be affecting your balance and co-ordination. Sometimes medicines or combinations of medicines can make you feel faint or dizzy, you should let your GP know if this ever happens.

If you have a fall, it is important to keep calm. If you are not hurt and you feel strong enough to get up, move slowly and make sure you rest for a while before carrying on with your daily activities. If you are hurt or unable to get up, try to get someone's attention and if possible crawl to a telephone and dial 999 for an ambulance. It's important to keep warm, try and reach for a blanket to put over you and try to change your position at least once every half an hour or so.

Local GP Dr Adrian McLachlan said: "Injuries caused by falls are the most common cause of death in people over the age of 75 in the UK. That's why it is so important to look at the simple steps you can take to prevent or lower the risk of having a fall."

He added: "If you or someone you care for is at risk of having a fall, talk to your GP. We can give you lots of advice and information to reduce your risk of falls and the injuries that are caused by them."

You can find more advice, information and top tips on Age UK's website and advice on falls, including advice for carers, on the NHS Choices website.