Falls can happen to anyone, but, unfortunately, as you grow older falls can become more common and you are more likely to injure yourself.
Most elderly people fall in and around the home. Falls are also common in aged care homes. If you have a serious injury it can lead to a change in where you live.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to help prevent falls and minimize your injuries if you do fall. Knowing your risk factors and taking a few precautions is a good start.
What causes falls in the elderly?
As you grow older, changes in your body such as vision problems, weakening muscles and stiffening joints can increase your chances of falling. Falls can also be a sign of a new health problem, medication side effects or balance problems. Even short-term illnesses (such as the flu and other infections) or surgery can temporarily increase the risk of falling.
If you’ve had a fall in the past six months, your chances of falling may be increased. There are many factors that can increase the risks of falling. These include:
- poor footwear such as loose slippers, shoes that don’t fit properly
- indoor hazards such as internal steps, rugs on the floor, slippery tiles in the bathroom, inadequate lighting between the bed and the bathroom or toilet at night
- hazards in the garden and outside areas of the house such as outside steps which don’t have handrails or are slippery, and uneven footpaths
Sensory and balance problems
- muscle weakness
- low vision or blindness
- poor balance
- reduced sensation
- Parkinson’s disease
- low vision or blindness
- hypotension (low blood pressure)
What can I do to reduce my risk of falling?
Things you can do to reduce your risk of falling include:
- eating healthy and nutritious food
- drinking enough fluids
- maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, with regular exercise to prevent your muscles weakening and joints stiffening such as tai chi
- taking medication only as prescribed
- wearing the right shoes – comfortable, firm-fitting, flat shoes with a low wide heel, laces, buckles or Velcro fastenings and rubber soles that grip
- wearing slippers which are good fitting
- not walking in socks
- making sure clothing is not too long causing a trip hazard (touching the floor)
- hazard proofing your home to make it as safe as possible – removing slip or trip hazards like loose rugs or mats and repairing or replacing worn areas of carpets
- wiping up spills immediately
- making sure there is adequate lighting, especially at night
- using your walking aid at all times
- installing grab rails in the bathroom
- keeping pathways in good repair and clean
- marking the edge of steps so they are easy to see.
Most falls can be prevented. You have the power to reduce your risk and protect your older loved ones from a serious fall. Stay safe by following these tips!