How you can help yourself prevent a fall!
- In people over 65 years of age, falls are the most common cause of injury and hospital admission.
- 1 in 3-4 older people fall at least once a year with the frequency of falls increasing with age.
- The majority of falls occur in the home environment when people are undertaking walking, physical work/chores, carrying or bending activities or negotiating steps, stairs and gutters.
- As well as affecting our health, falls can have a devastating effect on our wellbeing, especially our self-confidence and self-esteem. They can also limit our daily activities due to a fear of falling again.
What Causes Falls
The common risk factors that cause falls include:
- Problems with walking or balance
- Underlying medical problems
- Problems with eyesight
- Clothing and footwear
- The environment (indoor/outdoor)
- Poor nutrition
- Poor cognition
Four Ways YOU Can Prevent Falls
1) Be Wise with Your Eyes
How sight changes with age:
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Eyes take longer to adjust to light/dark and distance/depth.
- Eyesight is not as clear so potential hazards are harder to see.
What you can do:
- Have you eyes tested 1-2 years
- Allow time for your eyes to adjust when going between light and dark places
- Be extra careful when going up and down stairs
- Avoid bifocals and trifocals if possible
2) Have Your Health Care Provider Review Your Medications and Underlying Medical Problems
Medications or certain combinations of medicines may cause falls when side effects such as dizziness, unsteadiness, drowsiness, constipation or confusion occur. Have your doctor of pharmacist review the medicines you take.
Long term health problems such can increase your risk of falling because their symptoms can cause unsteadiness and poor balance. Underlying medical conditions that may affect you are: Arthritis, Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Diabetes, some Heart Conditions, Depression and Anxiety.
All chronic conditions affect individuals differently. It is important to be aware of your condition and how it affects you. This can help you to adjust what you do and get the most out of life.
3) Stay Active
As people age, their muscles become weaker and their joints become less flexible. This can lead to problems with balance and movement, which in turn raises the risk of falling. It is important to maintain physical activity and exercise to overcome this and reduce the risk of falling.
- Improves balance, coordination, muscle/bone strength and tone
- Assists joint mobility and stability
- Makes your heart stronger and your breathing easier
- Should be done every day for at least 30 minutes, minimum five times a week. Can be done in both sitting and standing.
- Can include walking, swimming, dancing, golf, yoga, bowls, Tai Chi, aqua-aerobics, strength and balance retraining using weights.
4) Safety Inside and Outside the Home
Be aware of hazards in the home – taking simple preventative measures can help reduce your risk of falling.
- Ensure all pathways are clear of clutter, unsafe mats and electrical cords
- Make sure there is plenty of light throughout the home
- Equipment and grab rails can make the bathroom a safer place
- Avoid climbing/reaching for items. Store regularly used items at waist/shoulder height
- All steps should have handrails
- Repair uneven or broken pathways
- Remove decomposing leaves, mould or moss that is covering paths.
Slow down, take your time,
be considered with your movements.