Ladder safety

During 2014 in Australia, 1668 people aged 65 years and over were hospitalized because they fell from a ladder, over 80% of those who fell were male. Ladder related injuries among men aged 65 years and older is steadily increasing in Australia. The rise in these ladder related falls is linked to the ageing baby boomer population and the popularity of DIY building reality television shows such as The Block. Those aged over 65 tend to fall from ladders at lower heights and mostly in the home environment. Studies show this population group sustain more severe injuries with higher hospital admission rates. The injury pattern in older patients shows a higher incidence of traumatic brain injuries and injuries to the trunk. A recent article by the Alfred Hospital, has shown only 43% of people who had extremely serious injuries, were able to care for themselves at home one year after the accident. So how do we prevent these ladder related falls from happening?? Make sure your ladder is safe and right for the job Use a Standards-approved ladder (Australian Standard AS/NZS 1892). Read the manufacturer’s advice and follow safety warnings. Check that your ladder is in good working order (for example, ensure it is free of rust, has non-slip safety feet, and that safety locks and braces are in place). Make sure the ladder is rated for the weight you need it to carry – your weight, the weight of tools and supplies, and any objects placed on the ladder). Make

Vision and falls

Fall rates increase with increasing age and account for 87% of injury hospitalizations in 85+ year olds. One major cause of falls is visual impairment. People with visual impairments are more than twice as likely to fall as people without visual impairments. They also have three times the risk of depression and the risk of hip fractures increases eight fold. There are both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that contribute to vision related falls: Intrinsic Factors Contributing to Vision Related Falls: Reduced depth perception— Older people who have decreased vision in one eye have more difficulty judging distances. This can make it difficult judging the distance from hazardous obstacles. Reduced contrast sensitivity— Older adults who have visual impairments may have difficulty seeing changes in surfaces as they cannot make out a solid edge of contrast. Reduced contrast sensitivity can make it difficult to detect obstacles or clutter and make make curbs nearly invisible. Reduced visual field— Whereas some eye diseases such as Glaucoma may result in poorer peripheral vision, other eye diseases like Diabetic Retinopathy or Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) may cause blind spots in the central field, or throughout the visual field. Objects that are not seen cannot be avoided, so reduced visual fields are a common cause of falls, especially when coupled with environmental hazards. Age Related Vision Loss—. The most common pathological eye conditions which affect the elderly include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Cataracts often develop slowly and occur when the normally clear lens

Coping with hot weather

Summertime can be very enjoyable with sunny, warm long days however excessive heat can lead to conditions such as heat stress and heat stroke of which people over the age of 65 years are more susceptible As we age our body’s mechanisms to cope with heat alters. Skin becomes thinner with age and we gradually lose the ability to perspire and regulate our body temperature. Older people therefore tend to overdress as they don’t feel heat the same way. Factors that may increase the risk of dehydration, heat stress and heat stroke in elderly people include: Living alone – When living alone there is no one to assist if the person ignores the signs of dehydration Self care problems – Reduced mobility may make it difficult for elderly person to adequately care for them selves in hot weather e.g. access water, prepare the house etc. Chronic medical conditions - Heart, lung and kidney disease may increase risk of dehydration and heat stress. Medications –Some medications can interfere with the ability to manage hot weather e.g. antipsychotic drugs commonly given to Alzheimer’s patient, anticholinergic drugs, sedative, beta blockers, diuretics, antihistamines and some antidepressants Caffeine and alcohol intake Below are the signs and symptoms that you and your loved ones should be aware of regarding heat related conditions Symptoms of heat exhaustion: Warning body is getting too hoot Thirst, giddiness, weakness, lack of coordination Nausea Profuse sweating Pulse normal or slightly raised Symptoms of heat stroke: Life threatening - medical emergency Very