A friend of mind recently mused “at what age do you stop ‘falling’ and start ‘having falls’?”. I’d not really considered this before but there certainly does seem to be a cut-off point when falling ceases to be something that you do and becomes something that happens to you. Maybe it infers a passivity; an inability to do anything about your fall? (Though I don’t know anyone who wilfully throws themselves on the floor – other than my 4 year old daughter when she feels aggrieved by some terrible injustice I have subjected her to of course). My friend mentioned this because his elderly mother had recently suffered a fall in the home where she lives and the staff had called him to let him know “your mum has had a fall”.
I’m fairly sure there’s no hard and fast rule as to when it applies and I also couldn’t state with any certainty whether age is the only factor or whether frailty and ill health also enter the mix. However, it would seem that ‘having a fall’ is the reserve of those who are older and have some degree of vulnerability as it implies a cause for concern.
Falls in the Elderly
Statistically you are more likely to fall if you are aged over 65 – according to NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) 30% of those over 65 and 50% of those over 80 fall at least once per year. Older people are more likely to fall because of the effect that the aging process has on our health – impairment of vision, problems with balance, weakness in physical strength and wastage of muscle due to inactivity and of course a range of medical conditions – and as well as being a factor in causing those falls, these ailments can also mean the implications of a fall are more serious. This often results in both physical injury and psychological problems as people lose confidence and become afraid of falling again.
If you, or a parent or other family member, have reached an age where you’re in the ‘having falls’ category then there is lots of advice out there on how to avoid a fall which is very useful. However, as the term implies, having a fall can be something that just happens to you and sometimes it’s difficult to prevent. Therefore, as well as taking measures to avoid a fall, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan (a fall back plan?!) so you know what to do in that scenario.
Minimising the Impact of a Fall
That’s where MonitorGo comes in. The device doesn’t actually prevent a fall but it does offer valuable assistance should the worst happen:
- It helps to get you up more quickly. The longer you are down for, the more serious the implications can be. According to Dr Anne Davis on the My Aging Parents blog “A lengthy lie on the floor if unable to get up potentially leads to muscle breakdown and kidney damage, pressure sores, hypothermia, missed medication effects”. MonitorGo can help to minimise this by enabling you to call for help quickly, either via manual alarm raising or, if you are unconscious or unable to operate the device, through the fall detection function.
- It reduces some of the psychological issues by giving you confidence that help is available should it be needed. This peace of mind is reassuring for those who have previous experience of falling or those who are simply nervous about the prospect of it.
- It alerts family members about the wearer’s falls. This can be really useful if you are worried about an older relative. How many times has your loved one insisted that they’re fine and you’ve no need to worry, only to find out that they’ve had falls that they haven’t told you about? Because the MonitorGo device sends a message to the contacts that have asked to be alerted when the wearer has a fall, even if it’s a false alarm, they get a better picture about that person’s health. There may be a physical problem that is contributing to their falls (such as lack of balance or eye sight issues) that could potentially be resolved if you have the knowledge that this is what’s happening.
Falls may become something that you have rather than something that you do but that doesn’t mean you have to consider yourself completely at their mercy. In a ‘hope for the best but plan for the worst’ approach, taking measures to prevent the falls and then minimising the risks should you have one is a sensible step that anyone over 65 should think about.
MonitorGo will be available to buy from early August 2014. To register your interest please do so on the pre-order page. We’ll keep you up to date and you are under no obligation to buy.