'Fall-proof' spaces for seniors

'Fall-proof' spaces for seniors
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A pilot project to assess the risk of falling, for all seniors living in the north, will be of interest to the elderly across Singapore. Many of them live with the daily fear of a fall which, bad enough even for younger people, can cause severe distress to those older. Public hospital emergency teams see a senior injured by a fall every half an hour. Of particular concern are hip fractures as only half of seniors recover fully, while one in four lose their independence completely.

The pilot project will identify how those at risk can be helped. Doctors and therapists could work with an individual to reduce such risk. Adjusted for improvements, the pilot project will be rolled out to Singapore at large eventually.

Falls occur for a variety of reasons, from the general infirmity attendant on old age to the inability to keep pace physically with the swirling speed of surrounding life. At home, the simple introduction of handrails and non-slippery mats can play a preventive role. Of concern are seniors who live alone and could number over 80,000 by 2030. Motion sensors in their homes can help alert caregivers, as recognised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Lions Befrienders Service Association and The New Paper which are jointly behind Project Helping Hands.

In public spaces, occasional displays of unconcern for the old, such as when they are shoved in shopping malls and on escalators, are a form of abuse that needs to be curbed. Overall, what is heartening is the importance being attached to the specific problems of the old and ways to contain them. By being proactive in anticipating their extent and depth, the nation can better prepare itself for an ageing population.

 


This article was first published on July 12, 2015.
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