7 Life-Saving Falls Prevention Safety Tips
Did you know that the rate of injuries to the head due to falls by older Australians has nearly doubled over the past decade?
And that each year one in four people over the age of 60, and one in three people over the age of 65 will have fall?
Pretty shocking huh?
In Australia, falls remain one of the leading reasons for older people being admitted to hospital at a rate of 38% compared to 13% for transport-related injuries.
Out of those hospital admissions about 38% are due to fractures to the hip and thigh, and 20% due to head injuries.
As you can imagine falls can have devastating impact on an individual's life and those around them.
Fortunately, you can take proactive action to protect yourself and loved ones from falls with these 7 Falls Prevention Tips:
Falls Prevention Tip #1: Conduct a Home Safety Checklist
- Floors: Remove or secure any rugs or carpets in your home and remove clutter.
- Cords and Cables: Remove or secure any cords from hallways.
- Stairs and Steps: Add slip resistant strips to stairs, and install handrails.
- Bathroom: Use non-slip mats in wet areas, and install grab rails.
- Kitchen: Clean up spills and food ASAP, and avoid climbing on chairs to reach high up cupboards.
- Garden Areas: Remove moss, weeds and any garden tools from paths and ensure surface is even without any holes or protruding parts that are tripping hazards.
- Lighting: Ensure lights are easily accessible and adequate in all rooms especially path from bedroom to toilet.
Falls Prevention Tip #2: Strengthen Muscles that Help with Balance
Have you heard of the saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it?”
Well, if you don’t exercise, then your muscles will start to deteriorate and become weaker, and your joints will become stiffer, and you will be at increased risk of falling.
You might be wondering, “how in the world am I going to exercise when I struggle to move?”
The good news is there are many safe and gentle exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles, and improve your flexibility, posture and balance, and highly trained Physiotherapists are able to tailor an exercise program to suit your needs.
Following are some of the best exercises to help reduce your risk of falls for your consideration:
- Tai-chi is one of the best exercises to prevent falls, and involves a series of movement performed in a slow and focussed manner combined with controlled breathing that places minimal stress on muscles and joints.
- The Otago Exercise Program is great if you prefer to exercise in the comfort of your home, and comprises of lower limb muscle strengthening, balance retaining and walking components.
- Lifestyle Integrated Functional Exercise Programs involve integrating movements into daily living activities multiple times a day to increase lower limb strength or improve balance.
- Other fun recreational activities that can also be considered include: dancing, lawn bowls, swimming, golf and tennis.
Falls Prevention Tip #3: Ensure Your Vision is Not Impaired
One of the main culprits of falls is impaired vision.
If you can’t see hazards such as uneven footpaths, spills on the floor or obstacles you are more likely to slip, or trip.
Following are some tips to reduce your risk of falling or slipping due to impaired vision:
- Avoid sudden changes in brightness of light.
- Give your eyes time to adjust when moving from a bright to poorly lit area or vice versa.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat when it is sunny outdoors.
- Avoid bifocal and multifocal lens glasses when walking outdoors as they make it harder to judge your position and distance from kerbs and steps.
- Have your vision checked annually and remove any cataracts detected.
Falls Prevention Tip #4: Ensure Proper Footcare and Footwear
Many people take their feet for granted, and do not truly appreciate the important role this body part plays in their day to day activities until something happens.
Your feet play a crucial role in what is known as “walking cycle” or “gait”, which involves a complex cycle between one leg swinging forward and the other bearing the weight of your body.
When your feet don’t have the arch support required, it can affect weight bearing, balance, and movement leading to increased risk of falls.
Following are some falls prevention tips related to footcare and footwear:
- Wear firm fitting flat shoes that have soles with strong grip, and a low broad heel.
- Avoid walking in socks or poorly fitted slippers.
- See a Podiatrist if you have any pain, swelling, tingling or shape changes in your feet.
Falls Prevention Tip #5: Minimise Use of Medicines that Cause Drowsiness
If you currently take multiple medications, chances are you’ve probably experienced one or more side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, confusion or unsteadiness.
The more medications you take and the higher the dosage, the greater the likelihood and severity of these side effects will be.
Following are a list of medication related tips to reduce the risk of falls:
- Minimise the use of sleeping tablets by practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding napping during the day, and too much stimulation in the evening.
- Minimise the use of anti-anxiety medication by trying meditation, slow breathing techniques, yoga, and writing in a journal.
- If you feel lonely, consider joining local community groups, or getting a dog instead of taking anti-depressants.
- Regularly have check-ups with your doctor, and aim to control your conditions on the lowest doses possible.
- Consider webster packing services offered by your local Pharmacist to minise the chances of overdosing.
Falls Prevention Tip #6: Consume Adequate Calcium and Vitamin D
If you spend most of your time indoors then chances are you probably don’t get enough sunlight, and may be deficient in Vitamin D.
This vitamin plays a crucial role in Calcium absorption, in your bone health and there is even evidence to suggest it affects your muscles as well.
Keeping your bones and muscles strong will improve your balance, and posture and reduce the likelihood of falls.
Following are some tips to ensure your Vitamin D levels are at optimum levels:
- Try to get 10-30 min of sunlight 3-4 times a week.
- Eat foods high in Vitamin D such as Fatty Fish, Beef Liver and Egg Yolks.
- Consider taking Vitamin D Supplements if your Vitamin D Levels are too low.
Falls Prevention Tip #7: Utilise Mobility Aids to Improve Your Independence
With the rapid advancement in engineering and technology, there are hundreds of assistive devices available on the market to assist you with living independently and reducing your risk of falling such as:
- Mobility aids such as walking sticks, walking frames, rollators and wheelchairs.
- Home fixtures such as grab bars, and railings.
- Bathroom aids such as raised toilet seats, shower seats, bath boards, shower commodes and over toilet frames.
- Bedroom aids such as bedside commode, over the bed tables, and bed grab bars.
- Kitchen aids such as perching stools, and orthopaedic high back chairs.
- Lounge room aids such as stand assists, over armchair table and lift and recline chairs.
Help Save Australian Lives...
As you are aware, falls can have a devasting impact on a person's life as well as those around them. Not only can it lead to disability, but it cause also lead to mortality.
At Mobility Shop Direct, it is our mission to
We believe that part of this mission involves increasing awareness regarding the major problem in Australia, and empowering Australians to take proactive action to reduce the likelihood of falls.
We encourage you to implement all the Falls Prevention Tips mentioned in this article and to share it with loved ones, so that they don't become one of the unfortunate victims of falls.