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Tuesday, 18 May, 1999, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Campaign to cut fatal falls
Some 2,000 elderly people die every year in the UK as a result of a fall in the home, according to government figures.

It is estimated that one elderly person dies from a domestic accident every five hours.

Falls in the home kill more people than road accidents.

But the government says many of the falls could be avoided by taking simple measures.

It is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the problem.

The Avoiding Slips, Trips and Broken Hips campaign is launched by Dr Kim Howells, the consumer affairs minister, on Tuesday.

Organised by the Department of Trade and the Health Education Authority, it will include a TV advertisement and millions of leaflets and posters.

It will point out that 80% of people who die from a fall at home are over 65.

Some 300,000 elderly people are also seriously injured or end up in hospital as a result of domestic accidents.

The majority of deaths from home accidents occur in London, the West Midlands, Wales and Scotland.

Threadbare carpets

Accidents can be due to people slipping on threadbare carpets, falling over while trying to change a light bulb and falling down stairs.

The government's campaign is being backed by elderly organisations.

Help the Aged says one 80 year old who recently contacted the organisation had been almost living in the dark for some time because he could not change his light bulbs.

"Things that younger people would find easy are often difficult to do when you are frail or have arthritis," said a spokeswoman.

Domestic accidents can be cut through simple measures
Help the Aged has several programmes to help prevent accidents in the home.

These include its senior link service which has a 24-hour call centre.

If elderly people have an accident, they can call the centre and it responds straight away by sending around an emergency team.

As part of the service, elderly people give a copy of their key to two nominated key holders so the team can gain immediate access.

Another programme is called the Handy Van Scheme and it is aimed at elderly people on low incomes.

Safety

This is only available in certain areas of the country and teams visit elderly people's homes to adapt them for safety and security.

For example, workers change light bulbs, fit hand grips to baths and do a variety of other simple tasks.

"It helps prevent accidents and allows people to stay in their own homes and live independent lives," said a spokeswoman for Help the Aged.

The organisation also gives out leaflets on home safety to elderly people.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Video
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw: "The campaign is aimed at those most at risk"
Video
Exercise physiologist Dawn Skelton offers tips on how to avoid a damaging fall
See also:

19 Apr 99 | Health
11 May 99 | Health
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