Falls can happen to anyone, but unfortunately, as you become older, falls can become more common and more serious. Most elderly people fall in and around the home and falls are also common in aged care homes. If you have a serious injury it can lead to a change in where you live and how you live your life, so it’s important to understand what causes falls and how to prevent them.
Changes in your body such as vision problems, weakening muscles and also stiffening joints can increase your chances of falling. Falls can also be a sign of a new health problem, medication side effects or issues relating to balance.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to help prevent falls and even minimise potential injuries if you do fall. The best place to start is knowing how to reduce the risk of falls by:
- Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, with plenty of regular exercise to prevent your muscles weakening and joints stiffening
- Wearing the right shoes – comfortable, well fitting, flat shoes with soles that grip well
- Avoiding walking around in socks
- Hazard proofing your home
- Making sure there is adequate lighting, especially at night
- Using your walking aid at all times
- Installing grab rails in the bathroom
- Marking the edge of steps so they are easy to see
- Wearing hip or limb protectors
Home maintenance and modification services may also help prevent falls by making your home safer and more secure and you may also want to consider installing a personal or medical alarm. Your choice of device will depend on many things, such as who can come to help, the distance over which the device works, how much it costs and other personal factors.
If you’ve had a fall in the past six months, your chances of falling may be increased, so don’t just dismiss falls as part of getting older, lack of concentration or clumsiness; talk to a health professional and ask about different options that may help you.
Medwest offers a range of allied health services and have been working with older people in aged care facilities and clinics for over 10 years. We have expert knowledge in the treatment of issues that can lead to falls through a variety of services.
Medwest Physiotherapists may be able to help you with balance and strengthening exercises. You can also ask us about equipment such as a walking frame or stick to help you move about more safely. It’s important that any equipment you do use is adjusted to meet your needs and is well maintained.
Medwest Podiatrists are also the best people to speak with if you have painful or swollen feet, tingling, pins and needles or bunions, as all of these things can affect your balance. Our Podiatrists may also suggest ways to improve your circulation and decrease any swelling in your legs and feet, and provide advice on suitable footwear.
Our Occupational Therapists can assess your home environment for potential hazards. They can also help you with modifications to make your home safer, such as rails in the bathroom, and provide you with an exercise program.
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide for preventing falls for yourself or a loved one.