Falls are one of the most common accidents amongst older people and can affect one’s lifestyle and independence. Contrary to popular belief, falls are not inevitable and many older people can be prevented from falling. Below are some simple tips on how to improve the safety of your home, both inside and out, to help prevent falls. A safer home can help you maintain an independent lifestyle.
Improving safety inside your home
- Have adequate lighting. You may like to use plug-in nightlights and have movement sensitive lights near stairs and your bathroom.
- Remove all loose mats and rugs, and ensure they are firmly secured and have slip-resistant backing.
- Remove clutter and make sure corridors are kept clear and well lit.
- Always wipe up spills as soon as they occur.
- Install grab rails in the bathroom - around the bath, shower and toilet (e.g. Making Life Easy Hand Rail - Suction).
- Use slip-resistant mats in the shower and bathroom (e.g. Making Life Easy Bath/Shower Mat - Suction).
- Arrange your kitchen so that the most frequently used items are easy to reach.
- Cordless telephones may be a good choice. They allow you to keep your telephone handy wherever you are in your house.
- Keep a telephone beside your bed. Keep emergency telephone numbers near your telephone. Place your telephone in a low position, so it can be reached from the floor.
- Ensure eyeglasses are easy to reach if you need them when you get out of bed.
- Get out of bed slowly - sit for a short time before you stand up. A firm mattress will make getting in or out of bed easier.
- Avoid wearing socks only, loose fitting slippers, leather or other slippery shoes in the house to avoid slipping.
- Clothing should be short enough to avoid tripping. In particular dressing gowns and nighties.
Improving safety outside of your home
- Wear sunglasses and a hat to reduce glare when outside.
- Make sure all outside steps around your house are easy to see. You may like to get the front edge of the step painted a contrasting colour.
- Make sure outside steps are well lit.
- Ensure paths are even and unbroken. Keep paths well swept.
- Keep paths free of moss, fungi and leaves. These can make the path slippery when wet.
- Store your garden tools safely.
- Many falls result from the use of ladders. Ask for assistance and comply with all safety instructions.
Regular exercise - Exercise to improve your balance, strength and flexibility. Home or group exercises (like Tai Chi) are good examples. Your Physiotherapist can also advise you on specific exercises and walking aids.
- Regular medical checkups - Visit your Doctor regularly, and make them aware of any new medical conditions or symptoms you may be experiencing such as dizziness, incontinence, urinary tract infections or vision problems.
- Healthy diet - Maintain your Calcium intake by including dairy products regularly in your diet. Enjoy high fibre foods such as bread, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Limit the amount of fluid you are drinking after 6-7pm.
- Regular eye checks - Have your eyes checked once a year, as poor vision can increase your risk of falling.
Well managed medications - Review your medications regularly with your Doctor or Advantage Pharmacist and ask about side effects of the medications you are taking. This is especially important if you are taking four or more different medicines, starting a new medicine or if you are changing the dose of your medicine. Here are some medicines which may be associated with an increased risk of falls:
- Sleeping tablets
- Medicines for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses
- Fluid tablets
- Medicines for high blood pressure
- Medicines for epilepsy
- Some medicines for heart disease
- Some pain relievers
- Some anti-allergy medicines
- Some medicines for urinary incontinence
- Some medicines for abdominal cramps.
You may like to consider having your tablets conveniently packed by your Advantage Pharmacist in a Dose Administration Aid (such as a Webster or Medicopack) so wont need to worry about ensuring your taking the right medications, at the right times.
Visit your Podiatrist
Try to visit your Podiatrist regularly to minimise any foot problems. Your Podiatrist can advise you on safe footwear that is comfortable and well fitting.
Limit alcohol intake
A high alcohol intake may increase your risk of falling. Try to limit your alcohol intake no more than 2 standard drinks on any day. Additionally, try to have several alcohol-free days.