A fall can have devastating consequences for an older person and the injury and loss of confidence that can result from a fall can be debilitating. The good news is that falls are not an inevitable part of getting older and can be prevented.
Here are 10 things you can do to prevent falls:
1. Keep moving to maintain your balance, strength and flexibility. Tai chi, group exercise classes, water workouts or walking, ideally 30 minutes per day every day.
2. Remove hazards. Look around your home and remove any hazards. Remove rugs or stick them down, add colourful strips to any steps, replace stairs with ramps and use non-slip mats in wet areas. Keep walkways clear of clutter, and make sure electrical cords are not in walk ways. Run any cords along skirting boards and tape them down to the ground.
3. Move around safely. Leave lights on at night so that you can get around safely if you need to get up during the night for a drink or to go to the toilet. Have hand rails added around your home such as the bathroom and toilet to support you. Stand up slowly after you have been lying or sitting down, and take a moment before you start walking, to minimise dizziness.
4. Get help! It’s important to stay mobile, but not to over stretch yourself. For instance, avoid working at heights such as climbing up on ladders to change smoke alarms or light bulbs. Your local council can usually help with these sorts of tasks.
5. Mobility aids like walking sticks, scooters, wheelie walkers, wheel chairs, shower chairs or even orthodic devices can be very beneficial to help people carry out tasks safely and more easily. There are also other assistive devices that can help with things like opening jars, food preparation, turning on taps or opening doors. An occupational therapist can provide assistance in these areas.
6. Talk to your GP about your medications both prescription and non-prescription medication. Your GP may be able to adjust your medication to reduce the risk of falls.
7. Support your feet. Wear supportive footwear that is properly fitted. It’s best to avoid thongs or slip on shoes, a firm shoe with laces is the way to go. Speak to a podiatrist for more detailed instructions.
8. Look after yourself. Stayed hydrated and ensure you are eating enough and minimise alcohol consumption. For more information on nutrition, download a copy of our ebook - 9 ways to eat better in older age.
9. Take your time. Falls are more likely if you are rushed and under pressure. When out in pubic, take your time crossing roads, use the hand rails that are available and report any uneven footpaths to your local council.
10. Make the most of your eyesight. Changes in eyesight can be gradual and start after the age of 40. Poor eyesight can make it difficult to see obstacles, steps or uneven floors. Have regular eye checks, keep your glasses clean and make sure your home is well lit. For a full list of what you can do to make the most of your eyesight read this fact sheet.
A video on preventing falls
If you need some support in the home or have been approved for a Home Care Package, call our friendly AccessCare team on 1300 819 200 to find out more.
For more information about preventing falls visit - www.healthpromotion.com.au