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Clinicians encourage older people to avoid trips and slips – by thinking like squirrels

Healthcare professionals in Suffolk and north east Essex are hoping to reduce the number of fall-related injuries this winter, by urging communities to emulate their bushy-tailed garden visitors.

Falls and fractures are a common and serious health issue, with falls continuing to be the number one reason older people are taken to the emergency department at hospital.

In the UK, a third of people aged over 65 and half of people aged 80+ fall at least once a year.

In September alone, 16,556 people in Suffolk and north east Essex were treated by an ambulance crew following a fall. Of those, 64% were conveyed to hospital.

In a bid to reduce those numbers, health officials are urging people to “think more squirrel”.

Masters of preparedness, the nimble nut-gatherers are famed for their forward-planning and can often be seen stashing nutrient-rich foods in the autumn to ensure a stable food source throughout the cooler months.

Inspired by the squirrels’ spirit of foresightedness, experts in older people’s health are asking over 65s to take 5 simple steps to get ready for winter…

FALLS is an easy-to-remember acronym that NHS staff are asking people to follow. The letters stand for:

F for “Friendly” – Check on family, friends and neighbours, and perhaps run through this checklist with them!

A for “Alarm” – Keep personal alarms or mobiles with you at all times and ensure they are charged and ready to use in case of emergency.

L for “Lively” – Let’s keep active. Regularly moving your body could help increase your strength and balance, in turn improving your mobility and reducing your risk of falling.

L for “Look” – Assess your walking aids and remove obstacles from walkways inside your home.

S for “Slippers and Shoes” – Wear appropriate footwear for the location and conditions and make sure your slippers fit snugly.

FALLS is the brainchild of Debbie Dyer, Clinical Lead for Ageing Well and Anticipatory Care at the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

“Experiencing a fall can be traumatic for anyone, but the consequences can be severe for older people. 40% of new care home residents report a previous fall as being a contributing factor to shifting from independent living into a care home setting.

However, people can help improve their chances of avoiding a fall by taking these simple actions. We’d encourage everyone to think FALLS this autumn and winter.”


Read the full guidance here:




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