Falls can happen to anyone, but as we grow older, the risk of falling increases significantly.
The causes of falls can be from a number of things. Including health-related factors (such as low blood pressure, that can cause dizziness or fainting), physical impairments (such as poor vision, muscle weakness) or other illnesses that affect balance.
Along with these are factors around the home such as wet floors and other slippery surfaces, tripping hazards and poor lighting.
Now, while they can be difficult to avoid, a few changes around the home can help reduce the chances of falling.
Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care has seven steps you can take right now to help prevent falls for yourself and others.
1. Tidy up
Have the grandkids been around and had their toys out? Are there old clothes, tools, magazines lying around?
Start with a general clean-up and get rid of anything that is not being used anymore.
Then, create a place for everything else (remember the phrase, “A place for everything and everything in its place”). Not only will the house look and feel better, it will help to reduce potential falls.
Need some inspiration? An interesting approach can be found in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō.
2. Remove tripping hazards
Walk around the house and garden and see if there are any potential tripping hazards.
Furniture (small tables or chairs below the line of site), an uncoiled hose in the garden, broken pavers, uneven floors, carpets or rugs (with a long pile or that bunch up or that slide on the floor below them). I
s there a coffee table in between the bedroom and the bathroom that could be forgotten in a nighttime toilet run?
Fix anything that needs fixing.
Be sure carpets and rugs are secure. Move any furniture that might be in the way.
3. Adequate lighting and illumination
Speaking of nighttime trips, make sure there is adequate lighting. T
his includes not only nighttime lighting (which can be as simple as plugging in a few kids night lights in strategic places) but also lighting in general.
As sight deteriorates and lacks the sharp contrast it once had, a little help in the form of lighting can go a long way.
Make sure areas are well lit, especially those with potential obstacles. And be sure to position the lighting in ways that don’t cast confusing shadows.
4. Make slippery surfaces slip proof
Baths, showers and bathroom floors can be fitted with slip proof mats. Bars can also be added for extra support. A chair can be added to the shower (even if it isn’t used often, it could be a good backup if you start feeling faint).
And don’t just stop in the bathroom, think about where else is slippery or has the possibility of being slippery (with water or other spills). The laundry, kitchen floor (food spills, leaking fridge, water from washing up, etc), rugs or carpets on a slippery floor, polished floorboards, wooden stair, mossy areas outside.
Add handrails where necessary and also be sure any existing handrails are attached firmly.
While slippers and socks around the house might feel good in winter, they can also be slippery on floorboards, tiles and other surfaces. Get a good pair with slip-proof soles.
The same with shoes. Be sure they have a good quality, slip proof sole (in both the wet and dry). And are comfortable and sturdy to wear.
Be careful with loose clothing. A dress or gown that hangs too far down can create a potential danger.
6. A little help
It’s amazing what a difference a walking stick or frame can make. Not only can they help protect you from potential falls, they can help you regain mobility and get you doing things you might have given up.
7. Maintain and improve your balance and physical ability
Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about exercises and a program to improve your balance, strength and mobility. Some simple exercise might be able to help reduce the risk of falls. Plus improve your mobility and health in general.
If you’d like some further help making your home or the home of a loved one safer, feel free to call Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care on 1300 241 300.