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Meet the expert: Prof Julia Newton on how friends and family can help

Meet the expert: Prof Julia Newton on how friends and family can help
So here we are, back with Julia again to learn more about falls. Julia, there will be plenty of friends and relatives out there who know someone who’s fallen. Is there anything that they can do to help? Well there’s lots of things that they can do to help. Just having a look around your relative’s home, just looking for hazards that they might trip over, rugs and carpets that are loose, and curtains that are perhaps in the way, et cetera. So that’s one thing that you can do. Encouraging them to keep active, taking them out for walks, making sure that they keep their muscle strength in their legs.
And encouraging them to make sure that they go to see their doctor for their annual medication review. So that the medications that they were started on when they were 50, and they’re still taking when they’re 80, do they still need them? And ask those kinds of questions. And hopefully they’ll be taken off medicines that they don’t need. And of course from our point of view, when we see people in clinic, there are things that we worry about, so underlying medical causes for why people have fallen. Is there anything that a friend or relative should be looking out for or asking about if they’ve had someone who’s fallen? Well blackouts are a really important thing to look for.
So if, when somebody’s fallen, you think they may have been unconscious during that, then it’s really important that you take them to see their GP, or encourage them to seek medical help. Because there are treatments that there is very good evidence will prevent blackouts from happening. So that’s very important. If you think that somebody might have broken a bone, or be at risk of breaking a bone, so have something called osteoporosis, then again it’s really important that if they’re falling over that they seek medical help. What clues can help someone know whether someone might have had a blackout or not?
Well it’s sometimes quite hard, but if people don’t remember how they’ve got to the floor, if they don’t put their hands out to save themselves, that is again consistent with somebody having a blackout. So if somebody just finds himself on the floor, they haven’t put their hands out, so they haven’t grazed their hands, or anything. Then that’s more likely that they’ve had a blackout. So again that makes you more suspicious. And begin to investigate more. If they’ve not have any warning that they’re going down, they just find themselves on the floor. So that’s the end of another discussion with Julia. But you can join us again next time to hear more.
We join Julia again as she talks about how friends and family can help if they are concerned a loved one may be at risk of falling.
We will learn some simple things we can look out for, things we can do to help and when we should encourage our friends or family to seek help from a professional. In the next step we will learn about what a professional looks out for when seeing someone with falls.
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Ageing Well: Why Older People Fall

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