1 in 4 elderly people over 85 are considered frail

1 in 4 elderly people over 85 are considered frail

Published at 3:30pm 15th October 2018. (Updated at 4:22pm 15th October 2018)

Home Instead Promoted by
Home Instead

Falls in elderly people can have devastating effects so local home care provider Home Instead offer advice on making sure your friends or relatives are safe and happy. 

Falls can not only impact the physical wellbeing of an elderly person, but can also have long-term effects including increased anxiety and depression, and reduced social contact and mobility.

But there are ways that relatives and friends can help elderly people. 

We got advice from Sheena Van Parys, Director of local home care provider Home Instead in the Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk area, on how falls can affect elderly people, how that is linked to frailty, and importantly how you can help. 

Old mans hands with wedding ring and walking stick

In elderly people, falling is closely linked with frailty from two angles: if someone is frail, they are more at risk of falling and causing more damage when they do so, equally if someone falls this then puts them more at risk of becoming frail.

How can you tell if someone is frail?

According to the Royal College of Nursing 1 in 4 people over the age of 85 are considered frail. 

"Frailty is known as a distinctive state of health relating to the aging process where people become increasingly vulnerable to physical and emotional set backs. Progressive frailty often remains unnoticed until a crisis happens such as a fall or ill health."

Sheena Van Parys, Director of Home Instead, Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk

If someone has three or more of the following five indicators they would be considered frail.

We would recommend they are consulted by the Home Instead team or their GP. 

  1. Unintentional weight loss
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Weakness (lack of physical strength)
  4. Slow walking speed
  5. Low levels of physical activity

Elderly ladies hands with wedding ring and younger hand holding it

How to reduce the risk of falls

  • Ensure maximum safety in the home - pathways (indoor and outdoor) should be well lit with no obstacles and even surfaces, with particular emphasis on things such as insecure rugs and the areas at the top and bottom of the stairs. Always use handrails and banisters where necessary. Home Instead can recommend local companies who can fit these.
  • Don't rush - a frequent time for falling in elderly people is when people rush to answer the phone. Therefore it's important to make sure the phone is nearby and in a safe area and that there is no stress put upon someone to answer quickly. 
  • Stay physically active - simple short walks around the house or garden, or exercising from a chair is an effective way of staying active. No need to sign up for a marathon, just keep moving!
  • Eat well - for those experiencing weight loss, a diet with more full fat and calcium rich foods would be suitable. 
  • Look after your feet - well fitted supportive slippers with non-slip grip. 
  • Ears and eyes - regular check ups with sight and hearing professionals will help ensure you're aware of what's around you. 
  • Be aware of medication side effects - particularly if it affects balance or dizziness. Contact your GP about this. 
  • Mental well being - plan trips, days out and have things to look forward to. Stay in contact with family and friends, even it can only be a phone call or popping in for a cup of tea. Social isolation can often be a root cause depression. 

Beth Parsons from Stray FM's Health and Wellbeing show spoke to Sheena van Parys, Director of Home Instead about preventing falls and reducing frailty:

More health and wellbeing stories from across Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale.