Falling at home: solutions to limit the risks

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Every year, almost 500,000 people over the age of 65 fall. For these seniors, the consequences can be both physical and psychological. How can we prevent this risk? With Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of Ouihelp, we take a look at the priorities for meeting this key challenge.

450,000 people over the age of 65 fall every year. 37% require hospitalization[1]. Studies also show that domestic accidents have a major impact on the fragility of the individuals concerned: the risk of a fall is multiplied by 20 after a first one[2]. That’s why preventing this type of accident is a key factor in the well-being and independence of senior citizens.

There‘s no denying it: the risk of falling increases with time. Because aging 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[3], often involving “a fracture of the upper end of the femur, indirectly responsible for high mortality in the months that follow”. Quite apart from this risk, such accidents have a strong psychological impact: they generate anxiety and diminish self-confidence.

Awareness and anticipation


How do we deal with this risk? The fact is, it’s never easy to become aware of one’s fragility. However, anticipation proves decisive. Whether you’re 65 or 90, it’s vital to be aware of the warning signs for yourself and your loved ones. Starting with the first: difficulties in performing gestures 100% independently. “The challenge is to take measures beforehand, rather than after the fact, once dependency has set in,” says Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of OuiHelp, a company specializing 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 outdoors or in the living room.

Adapting your home to limit risks


Falls at home are often linked to inadequate home design. So adapting a home starts with transforming a bathtub into a shower. Removing any slippery objects and installing a lighted path to help you find your way around at night: these are measures that can prove decisive. For optimum support, you can call on the services of an occupational therapist, a specialist who will rethink your home’s layout to create the right conditions for long-term home care.

Using a walking aid


Awareness is the key to being able to benefit from support. Recognizing that you need help to get around is a first, life-saving step. Wooden, metal, English… canes have been used for centuries. Requiring only one hand to handle, it has the disadvantage of needing to be lifted with every step, making it an inherently intermittent solution. Other aids have appeared in recent decades, such as walking frames (gadot, stand, walker, etc.) or wheeled frames (rollators, walkers). While these solutions greatly improve balance, they have the disadvantage of requiring two able-bodied upper limbs and a volume that prevents them from being used in confined spaces. This observation is behind the 2018 launch of a third way, combining the qualities of the rollator and the cane: the Wheeleo®. The first wheeled quadripod cane, a true one-handed walker, its use greatly reduces the risk of falling, offering a new walking experience.

Call on personalized help


In a preventive approach, if the risk is significant, one option for vulnerable people may be to benefit from human accompaniment. A home care company can provide invaluable support to a person whose physical abilities are declining. Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay explains: “The home care assistant can carry out all kinds of tasks, à la carte: running errands, 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 invaluable support to complement the many aids available.

References :
[1] https://www.has-sante.fr/upload/docs/application/pdf/2013-04/referentiel_concernant_levaluation_du_risque_de_chutes_chez_le_sujet_age_autonome_et_sa_prevention.pdf
[2] https://www.academie-medecine.fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/pages-de-1025-1040.pdf
[3] HAS : Prevention of accidental falls in the elderly – Recommendations; November 2005

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