Each year, one in three Australians aged 65 or over experience a fall. It is currently the largest cause of hospitalisation in our country, with most falls taking place in your own home.
Fortunately there are many things you can do to lower your risk of falling, or reduce the severity of injuries if one occurs. Here are six steps that can help.
Chat to your doctor
To reduce your risk of falls, a good place to start is having a chat to your GP. They can look at health factors that may be affecting your ability to move safely, such as diet, exercise and any potential side effects from medication. They can also work with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist to help put together a fall prevention plan for you.
Other health checks worth considering is having your eyes tested, as deteriorating vision can affect your ability to identify trip hazards, and seeing a podiatrist. Foot problems are a common cause of falls in older people, so it’s important to take proper care of your feet.
Review how safe your house is
There are three types of hazards that can cause you to have a fall at home:
- Poor lighting: make sure you have bright lighting in each room to avoid tripping on objects, especially between your bed and the toilet for night-time use. Movement-sensitive lights near stairs and hallways can also help keep you safe as you move through your house.
- Slipping: bathroom tiles can be slippery when wet, so it’s a good idea to install grab rails to hold on to and anti-slip surfacing in showers and bathtubs. Make sure you wipe up spills in the kitchen and bathroom straight away, so you don’t create hazards on tiled surfaces.
- Tripping: removing clutter from hallways, staircases and doorways will help prevent tripping over. Repair carpets with worn areas and loose threads you can trip over, and make sure electrical cords are safely tucked out of the way.
Do you need help cleaning your home and keeping it clutter-free? Home Caring’s team of dedicated carers can help. We can also organise for an occupational therapist to assess your home for fall hazards. Please get in touch to find out more.
Look after your health
Malnutrition and low body weight increases the risk of falling, as these conditions can cause fragility, poor coordination, slower reaction time, bone loss and a lack of muscle strength.
This means that a key factor to avoiding falls is looking after your overall health and wellbeing. Try to eat a healthy range of foods that are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, dairy and nuts. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and keep alcohol consumption in moderation.
Get moving and exercise
Exercise really is the best medicine! The more you move, the higher your chances of keeping your joints and muscles healthy. It can also help improve your sense of balance, so you can avoid falls and protect yourself from major injuries.
There are plenty of ways to get regular exercise, from group classes tailored to seniors to bush-walking groups, joining the local gym or even going for a walk in your local area. If you’re worried about finding a type of exercise that suits your physical ability, chat to a physiotherapist. They can create a custom exercise program that suits your needs, goals and limitations.
Our shoes make direct contact with the ground, so they should enhance your stability, posture, balance and safety. Wear supportive shoes that are comfortable, fit your feet well, have enough room in the toe area, have low or no heels and slip-resistant soles. Also avoid wearing socks or loose slippers around the house, as this can cause you to slip.
Also try to avoid wearing clothing that is too long or drags along the floor when you walk, such as a dressing gown, long scarves or pants that are too long, as this may increase your chances of tripping. Some people also choose to wear hip protectors to help prevent fractures in the event of a fall.
Explore assistive technology
There are plenty of solutions available to help you perform daily activities without facing a high risk of a fall. This includes:
- Personal fall alarms – this features a button that you can press if you experience a fall and have no one to help you, especially if you are living on your own. You can also get motion-sensor alarms which alert someone if you fall, without the need to press a button.
- Sturdy shower seats so you have someone to sit down if you become unsteady on your feet while standing in the shower.
- Grab rails that can be installed around the home to give you more stability as you move around the house, with non-slip versions for the bathroom.
- Grab rails and raised seats for toilets so you can attend to your needs safely and easily, without risk of a fall.
- Walkers and rollators to give you stability and security as you move around your home and out in the community.
For more information about assistive technology and equipment that can help prevent a fall, please get in touch. We’re more than happy to help.