Preventing Falls at Home

Falls are common amongst elderly people over the age of 65 and falling can have serious consequences such as:

• Fractures
• dislocations
• Injuries to the head
• Sprains and bruising
• A fall can create a lack of confidence in an elderly person that leads to them not wanting to do their usual activities or live the life they would like to live.

There are a number of factors that contribute to your risk of falling as you grow older, including:
• Changes in the sight and other sensory impairments leading to a lack of balance
• Weakening muscles and stiffening joints
• New medication and changing medication can cause balance issues
• Joints stiffening leading to a weakening of the muscles
• A lack of physical activity
• Not drinking sufficient water and a poor diet
• Inappropriate footwear
• Hazards in the home can cause a trip and subsequent fall such as loose carpet or furniture in bad positions.

Although falls are common it is possible to hugely reduce the risk of falling by reducing various risk factors. It is also important to think about reducing the damage caused by falls in the home.

If someone does have a fall it is important to speak to a doctor to try and understand what has cause the fall and what can be done to prevent this fall from happening in the future.

Key points to help avoid falls:
• Improve safety in and around your home.
• Staying active and looking after your health are key to maintain strength, balance and flexibility. Speak to your family or care staff and ask to do some more activities. Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking lots of water will also help in avoiding falls.
• Adequate footwear is key! Make sure that your shoes fit well and are comfortable. Try to use wide footwear with slip resistant soles and with no heels.

Improving safety at Home

There are various things that can be done to reduce the risk of falls within the house such as:
• Make sure lighting in the house is adequate and can be easily switched on in the night for example. Automatic lights can be installed to make sure a light comes on during the night.
• Clean up any spillages immediately
• Keep all walkways clear and free of clutter
• Grab rails can be placed in awkward areas around the house such as the bathrooms and a hand rail on either side of the stair case should be installed.
• Make sure all carpet is secured down and quickly replace any loose or worn carpet
• Look at how easy it is to get in and out of bed and on and off furniture to see if any extra equipment is required.
• It is advised to avoid long clothing that may cause you to slip and wear proper footwear not socks or loose slippers.
• It is highly recommended to have an Occupational Therapist assess the home to offer any advice on improvements that can be made.
• Outside of the house all pavements and driveways should be flat with no cracks and all external steps should be lit on an evening. Avoid going outside when there is ice or snowfall.

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