Reducing falls at home

If you’re a senior, you might be feeling nervous about falling in your home as you grow older. Research shows falls are a leading cause of injury, disability and death in adults aged 65 years and older.

It might seem unavoidable, but it’s not. You can take action now to reduce your risk of falling.

RetireAustralia preventing falls
Dr Ryan Harvey from House Call Doctor says, “Preventing the risk of falling is not just about protecting your physical health, it’s also about maintaining independence as your body ages”.
The reasons why you may fall in your home can be due to:

  • muscle weakness
  • gait balance deficits
  • medications that affect balance and co-ordination
  • aged hearing and vision
  • hazards in the home

Dr Harvey recommends 5 simple ideas you can try to reduce your risk of falls.

Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle

Regular exercise will maintain muscle strength and prevent stiff joints.
“Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, or consider supplements, to help maintain bone strength,” says Dr Harvey.
“It’s also important to keep up your fluids.”
Make sure you have regular hearing checks to manage conditions that may cause issues in the future.
Be aware of any medications that may cause loss of balance, and ask your GP if you have any concerns.

Redesign your home

“Most falls happen in the home, so simply redesigning some areas can make a real difference,” says Dr Harvey.
During your end-of-year clean out, look out for ways to reduce trip hazards, such as rugs, and repair any worn patches in carpet.
Clean and repair pathways, and mark the edge of steps to make them easily visible for everyone.
It’s a good idea to install handrails and grab bars where you need them. These safety devices are crucial for going up and down stairs, getting on and off the toilet and stepping in and out of the bathtub without injuring yourself. 

Wear proper shoes

You might not be running as many laps as you used to, but a good pair of shoes, or slippers, will do wonders.
Find a comfortable pair that are firm fitting and flat with a low-wide heel. Opt for rubber soles that grip easily.
“Try to avoid walking around in socks, as they have little surface grip,” says Dr Harvey.

Install better lighting in rooms

It’s important to have enough lighting in rooms, particularly if you have vision problems.
Look at installing LED lights for greater brightness in dark places, particularly in stairways and hallways.
Dr Harvey says, “Adding night-lights in bedrooms and bathrooms can help you guide yourself around at night.”

Ensure you have access to a phone

In the event of a fall, it’s really important to have a phone in reach so you can easily call for assistance.
“If you’re not good at keeping your mobile with you, install landline phones around the house on side tables or countertops,” says Dr Harvey.
If you live on your own and you’ve had a fall, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Afterwards, call your neighbour to come check on you while you wait for the ambulance.
Learn more about House Call Doctor at their website or call 13 55 66

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