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Doctors at a Welsh hospital are urging people to buy well-fitted slippers as gifts for Christmas to prevent their loved ones from falling.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board hope their Slippers for Christmas campaign - now in its second year - could help save the NHS £2.3bn a year, while raising awareness around falls prevention.
Alun Morgan, assistant director of Therapies and Health Sciences said: “Many of us think that having problems with our balance and getting weaker is an inevitable part of ageing so along with a few wrinkles and grey hairs, the odd fall is to be expected as we get older.
“But falls are preventable and are often a warning sign that something else is wrong. As well as unsuitable footwear or slippers, falls can also be caused by not drinking enough fluids, poor eyesight, urinary infections, poorly controlled blood pressure and medications.”
He continued: “Falls prevention is extremely important, as even a single fall can have significant consequences for that person. They can cause injuries, fractures, loss of confidence, hospital admissions and a loss of independence.
“The reason for falls can be complex, but we can significantly reduce the risk of them occurring. It is so important to work on our strength and balance regularly as well as keep hydrated, have regular sight tests and medication reviews. Not to mention wearing appropriate footwear which can all help to prevent the risk of a fall.”
Six out of 10 falls happen in the home
Around 500 people aged 65 and over are admitted to Cardiff and Vale’s Emergency Unit for falls each month.
Old or ill-fitting slippers are one of the main causes of falls among older people, causing injury and loss of confidence to the patient, and also putting avoidable pressure on our health services.
Cardiff and Vale Health Board says buying the right types of footwear could help prevent people from spending unnecessary time in hospital.
They recommend that slippers are close-backed, the sole has a good grip, they can be fastened, and they do not have a heel.
To reduce the risk of tripping, the Board also recommends removing or repairing any hazards that could cause a trip, reducing clutter around the home and undertaking low impact exercises to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time.
Principal health promotion specialist, Cheryl Williams, added: “While anyone is at risk of falling, our chances increase from the age of 65. “However, there are ways you can reduce the risk, including wearing appropriate footwear and improving your strength and balance to make you less likely to have a fall.
“The best gifts you can give this Christmas are good health and independence. New slippers for a loved one or neighbour will not only help to avoid falls, but will keep their feet warm during winter.”