Health and Wellness |

Helpful guide to falls prevention

September 21, 2020
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older woman sitting cards

We’ve all heard the expression, ‘you’re only as old as you feel’ and we would do well to live by it. After all, why should the construct of time dictate how we live our lives or determine what value we can provide to others? But sadly, there comes a time when how we feel catches up to our age and adjustments are required to reduce risk of illness and injury. 

Normal ageing involves weaker muscles, inhibited balance, declining eyesight and slower reaction times. All of these contribute to the increased risk of falls as we age, the ramifications of which can be extensive.  

To help manage this, assessing these three key areas and implementing some often-simple changes, can significantly increase quality of life, maintain independence and prevent falls. 

Key areas to assess:
Physical activity 
Daily habits 
Environment. 

Physical activity  

Effective fall prevention doesn’t mean limiting activities. It’s actually better to be more active.  

As we grow older, we lose up to 30 percent of our muscle strength each decade unless we actively work to maintain it. Our flexibility also decreases. Having good strength, balance, and flexibility can mean the difference between recovering from a misstep and experiencing a major fall.  

Many effective fall-prevention exercise programs are available. In addition, the following activities have positive effects on strength and balance. They’re also fun!  

  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Strength training
Daily habits 

Simple behavioural changes in your daily habits can also help you move through the world with more confidence. For example:  

  • Wear nonslip shoes (even inside)  
  • Take it slow in wet conditions  
  • Get up slowly  
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Avoid carrying too much (say yes to help with the groceries) 
  • Don’t rush around (even when your phone is ringing)   
  • Shower safely (maintain contact with the wall or install a rail)  
  • Consider a mobility scooter.  
  • Watch your alcohol intake   
Environment 

Sometimes, older adults are reluctant to fall-proof their homes because they think that doing so makes them look helpless. But most falls among the elderly occur in the home. Making some small changes to your home environment can significantly reduce your fall risk. For example: 

  • Declutter your home and do this routinely. 
  • Rearrange your furniture to create clear paths through each room 
  • Make everything easy to reach and avoid needing to use a ladder or stool.   Place a light source near your bed for when you need to get up in the night 
  • Think about replacing rugs with slip-proof rugs.  
  • Clean up all spills right away 
  • Use slip-proof mats in all showers and tubs 
  • Fall-proof your bed by installing bed rails for a safe and sound night’s sleep. 
  • Install other assistive devices including grab bars beside tubs, showers, and toilets;handrails for stairs; toilet seat risers; non-skid strips for stairs and shower chairs  

Here at Be we work one-on-one with clients to provide a range of support services designed to help you to remain independent and living at home for longer. Find out more about our Home Care Services here or call 1300 761 011.

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