The risk of having a fall is an unfortunate part of ageing. A fall can have a serious long-term impact on mobility and quality of life. As the body ages weakening muscles, stiffening joints and problems with vision can increase the risk of having a fall, particularly in the home where most falls occur. Decreasing bone density can mean that even a simple slip in the kitchen or trip on the living room rug can result in serious bone breakages that could require surgery and take a long time to heal.
By being aware of what can trigger a fall, and putting in place some measures to reduce the risk as much as possible, you can continue to live an active and independent lifestyle; mobility is the key to maintaining a good quality of life at this stage of the ageing journey!
Some health conditions can increase your risk of a fall
While the ageing body puts you at risk of having a fall, some common health conditions can also increase the risk of falling, including:
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Dementia / Alzheimer’s Disease
• Low blood pressure
Falls can also be a sign of a new health problem, medication side effects or balance problems. Even short-term illnesses (such as the flu) or surgery can temporarily increase the risk of falling.
Simple things you can do to reduce the risk of having a fall
As the risk of having a fall increases with age, taking a preventative approach, particularly in the home, can significantly reduce the likelihood of injury.
Here are some things you can do to help minimise the chance of a fall :
• Regularly exercise to prevent your muscles weakening and joints stiffening.
• Take medication only as prescribed and make sure you speak with your pharmacist or doctor about any potential side effects that impact balance.
• Wear the right shoes – comfortable, firm-fitting, flat shoes and rubber soles that grip. Avoid wearing only socks around the house, they can be slippery!
• Wear clothing that is easy to move in, and won’t get in your way (such as a long skirt touching the floor).
• Look for items in your home that may be a slip or trip hazard, like loose rugs, mats or worn areas of carpet, and consider removing or replacing these.
• Wipe up spills immediately.
• Make sure there is adequate lighting, especially at night. Mark the edge of steps or raised areas of path, so they are easy to see.
• If you own a walking or mobility aid, ensure you use it and it is within easy reaching distance at all times.
• Keep hallways and pathways around the house clear of clutter.
Making your home safe
You can make small, simple modifications to your home to help prevent falls. Some of these can easily be installed with the help of a family member, but did you know that some government funded homecare services include home modification services in their care packages? See myagedare.gov.au for more information.
Some simple modifications to the home can include:
• Grab and shower rails in the bathroom
• Hand rails in other parts of the house
• Ramps and other mobility aids
• Emergency alarms and other safety aids
At Freedom Aged Care, our residents live in their own self-contained private home within the community with many of these measures in place to minimise nasty falls as they go about their day-to-day. All our Freedom homes include the added peace of mind of a 24-hour call system wearable and installed in their home in key locations, and care onsite throughout the day and night. Our team regularly visit each resident based on their personal care plan, so our residents are secure in the knowledge that they can maintain their independence, privacy and freedom in a caring and supportive environment.