Qatar’s Healthy Ageing Strategy Leaders Advocate Falls Prevention Awareness in Older Population
September 22 marks annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day
HMC public awareness effort highlights that most falls are preventable
Doha 21 September 2021: Every year one in four adults aged 65 and older has a fall that may lead to injury such as bruises, broken bones, especially hip bones, and head injuries. The physical, emotional and financial costs of falls affect not just the injured person, but their family, caregivers and the community. In support of the annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) advocates public awareness about the risks of falling, especially for older people, and to learn about simple steps available to minimize them.
While the risk levels for falling increases with age, falls are not an inevitable result of aging. Over time, sensory impairments, muscle and skeletal disorders, and chronic diseases make people increasingly susceptible to losing their balance and falling. The rates of fall injuries for adults 85 and older are four to five times greater than those of adults 65 to 74.
The national lead for Healthy Ageing in Qatar, Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, explains that falls threaten a person’s independence, safety and their overall well-being and can lead to loss of life. “When an older person falls for the first time, this can result in them developing a fear of falling that in turn may result in limiting their social and physical activity. It is important for older people not to avoid physical movement for fear of falling but to get help to identify the cause of the fall, assess the risk of future falls and lessen these risks.”
Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, who is also the Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, said that older adults often have multiple health conditions that require multiple medications, or perhaps their hearing or sight is no longer as sharp as when they were younger – all of these points can contribute their risk of experiencing a fall.
“We urge family members and caregivers to be vigilant about registering falls of those they care for as often an older person is embarrassed to mention such an incident. Falls are often due to simple reasons that can be addressed fairly easily if one knows what to look out for. In HMC we have introduced dedicated Falls Prevention Clinics in Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute. Our experienced healthcare professionals will complete assessment checks on patients who have had falls and give them advice on what to do to safeguard them from future potentially more dangerous falls,” added Dr. Al-Hamad. “This year alone our clinics supported over 365 older patients with expert consultation to reduce the risk of future falls.”
There are six simple steps that have been shown to reduce the risk of falling: regular exercise to boost muscle strength and promote balance; regular eyesight and hearing checks; regular medication reviews with the doctor or pharmacist to limit drug-related falls; reviewing home safety precautions to remove trip hazards in the house; talking to a trained healthcare provider and conducting a falls assessment; and finally, talking to family and carers about when and how to introduce falls precautions.
Dr. Kawa Amin, Consultant Geriatrician and the lead for the Falls Prevention Program at HMC explained that HMC provides an evidence-based falls prevention program as part of its Healthy Ageing strategy. “Older adults can fall anywhere but they most often fall inside or around the home. The best prevention approaches include medical assessment and management to identify the challenges and determine the right course of action. Our physiotherapy department provides progressive exercise regimes and our Occupational Health Department provides advice on home safety modifications. We also provide specialist advice on when and how to use certain mobility tools that help patients maintain their balance, such as walkers or canes.”
“An initial consultation can be arranged through the Elderly Urgent Care Unit in Rumailah Hospital or the Geriatric Wellness Clinic in Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, or one can get a referral to the Falls Prevention Clinic through a primary or specialist doctor,” added Dr. Amin.
The National Health Strategy (2018-2022) emphasizes the importance of good healthy aging practices for the population to remain healthier for longer. The Healthy Ageing website, developed by Hamad Medical Corporation, provides valuable information on healthcare services for older adults and health advice for all adults [ https://www.hamad.qa/healthyageing]