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Ten Steps To Prevent Falls

As we age, our balance, coordination, and muscle strength can decline, making us more susceptible to falls. The good news is, 40% of falls can be avoided! 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 and use your cane or walker if advised. Check over your house regularly as when 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.

4. Declutter

Make your home safer by getting rid of excess furniture and clutter that could cause you to 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 these 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. Most falls occur in the home, with the bathroom and kitchen common injury areas. Look out for rugs or mats fraying, shoe or slipper soles coming off, and floor or tiles coming up. Also, pay attention to your personal well-being – go slower if you don’t feel 100% that day.

8. Exercise

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. Over time, inactivity makes you more likely to fall because your muscles get weaker, your joints stiffer, and your balance becomes worse. You don’t have to hit the gym or run a marathon; just a gentle walk, stretching, and other low-impact activity is a great place to start.

9. Light your home and pathways clearly

By the age of 65, we need three 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, paying special attention to pathways where you walk frequently e.g, 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.

10. Medication

Some types of medicine can increase your risk of falling, particularly those taken for anxiety, depression, or difficulty sleeping. Be sure to follow directions carefully, and keep in mind that you may also be at greater risk simply because you take four or more different medications.

Failure to take medication properly is another major cause of falls, so take medication as prescribed, on time, at the right dose. Oh and if you feel any adverse side effects, have a chat to your GP.

What if I do fall?

These ten steps will help you stay steady on your feet however, in the event of a fall, it is important to be able to get help when you need it. Our personal and emergency alarms can automatically detect if you’ve had a fall and notify our emergency response centre. 24-hour monitoring means that help is available any time of the day or night, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

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