Top 10 Tips – Fall Prevention
Most falls occur at home. The good news is, incredibly, 40% of falls are avoidable! Here’s how:
1. Ask for help
Ask a friend or relative to help you carry out all of our Fall Prevention Tips. They should look at your home with fresh eyes and help you compile a To Do List. They can also help you to source tradespeople to rectify problem areas.
2. Be aware of surroundings
Always look where you are walking to make sure there is nothing you could trip on. Walk carefully – rushing can put you off balance. Use your cane or walker if advised. Check over your house regularly. After we have lived in our homes for years we tend not to notice the gradual deterioration of surroundings such as pathways, overgrown gardens, steps, furniture etc.
3. Eat, drink, sleep
Stay energised and healthy. If you are tired, dehydrated or hungry, you are less aware and weaker, increasing your chances of a fall. Stand up slowly after lying down or sitting. Take care when bending down and make sure you are steady before walking. Be especially careful when you are ill, for example with the flu.
Make your home safer by getting rid of excess furniture and clutter that could make you trip and fall. For example, low coffee tables, magazine racks, footstools or plants. Avoid heavily patterned floor coverings as they make it harder to see small objects because they “blend in”. Highlight stair edges with brightly coloured tape, or have furniture in contrasting colours to walls. Avoid long flowing curtains and replace with simple blinds or shutters.
5. Avoid Trip-ups
Remove items that lie on the floor such as rugs, pet baskets, decorations etc. Avoid using talcum powder on tiles, vinyl or wooden floors. Mop any liquid or food spills as soon as possible. Tape down electrical cords. Don’t use the door “draught snake” – replace with fixed draught rubber to door. Mark any small level changes in the house floors and outside paths.
6. Get a Grip
Hold onto sturdy furniture or handrails if you are unsteady. Install additional handrails in fall prone zones such as the toilet, shower, stairs, walkways and kitchen.
7. Pay attention
Pay attention to fall trouble spots. The bathroom and kitchen are common injury areas. Look out for rugs or mats fraying, shoe or slipper soles coming off, floor or tiles coming up etc. Also pay attention to your personal well-being for that day – either eat, drink, sleep to feel better or, Go Slow if you do not feel 100% that day.
Inactive or unfit people tend to have poorer balance and weaker muscles and can be unsteady when walking, which can increase the risk of falling. It is common for people who feel unsteady to do less walking. Over time this actually makes you more likely to fall because your muscles get weaker, your joints stiffer and your balance becomes worse.
By the age of 65 we need 3 times more light to see what we did at 20 years old. Our eyes take longer to adjust, are more sensitive to glare and less able to judge distance and depth, for example on steps. So light your home and pathways clearly. Pay special attention to pathways where you walk frequently, like to and from the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and front/back entrances. Consider installing sensor lights, nightlights and keep a torch handy at all times in case of power failure.
Some types of medicine can increase your risk of falling. You may also be at greater risk simply because you take 4 or more different medications. The types that may be a problem include those taken for anxiety, depression or difficulty sleeping.
Follow directions! Failure to take medication properly is another major cause of falls. Take medication as prescribed, on time, at the right dose. If you feel any side effects, talk to your GP.