People with confusion including those suffering dementia and delirium due to illness are the focus this year’s April Falls Day®.
Hunter New England Health Falls Injury Prevention Coordinator, Patsy Bourke said that to celebrate April Falls Month, Hunter New England Health in conjunction with the NSW Falls Prevention Network is holding a forum at the Sebel Kirkton Park, Pokolbin this week.
“The theme of the forum is Don’t let confusion cloud the risk of falls. Attendees will focus on a range of initiatives to better identify older people with either temporary (delirium) or longer term (dementia) memory changes, both of which increase the risk of a fall,” said Ms Bourke.
The Clinical Excellence Commission’s (CEC), NSW Falls Prevention Program has developed resources to help promote better care for patients with confusion and prevent them falling.
Lorraine Lovitt, Leader of the Program, says that as a first step, it is important to find the reason for the patient’s confusion. Interventions can then be put in place to help prevent a fall in consultation with the patient, family and carers.
“Signs of confusion could be sudden and fluctuating. There may also be signs of increased agitation, disorientation or changes in the level of consciousness,” said Ms Lovitt.
Families and cares of patients in hospital can provide staff with valuable information if they find their loved one is more confused than ‘normal’.
For more information on falls prevention visit the CEC website and follow the April Falls Day® 2015 link.
“A fall is serious and can lead to long term hospitalisation, loss of independence, the need for supported care and, in some cases, premature death,” Ms Lovitt said.
One in three people older than 65 have a fall each year, but falls can be prevented. No other single cause of injury, including road trauma, costs the health system more than falls.
Ms Bourke said it’s important for people to understand that falls can be prevented and staying physically active is the single most important thing we can do to stay fit and independent.
“As we age our bodies lose muscle strength. Improving strength and balance in our legs allows us to complete regular daily activities more easily, including getting up and down stairs, in and out of cars and negotiating uneven surfaces,” Ms Bourke said.