Slips, trips, and falls as we get older is quite common. In fact, it is one of the largest causes of hospital admissions. Although majority of falls don’t cause serious injuries, they can leave the elderly feeling quite distressed and damage someone’s confidence and independence. It is also a major cause of the elderly moving to long-term nursing or residential care.
Sometimes, factors such as medications, health conditions and footwear can affect one’s balance when stood up. Despite this, there are many things that someone can do to stay steady when on their feet.
There are several things the elderly can do to prevent falls.
- Stay active: as we age, muscle strength and balance reduce and there are exercises designed to improve these. If you are caring for an elderly person, and it is appropriate, encourage them to improve their strength by participating in physical activities.
- Eat well and keep hydrated: it is important to keep an eye on both your meals and hydration levels. Ensure adequate food and liquid intake.
- Take care of your eyes and hearing: book an eye or hearing test if you have not had one recently.
- Manage your medicines: certain medicines can make someone feel dizzy or faint and affect your balance. Let your doctor know if you experience side effects as they may need to check the dose or look at alternatives
- Choose the right shoes: ensure that shoes fit well, are well-cushioned and provide adequate support. Never walk indoors bare footed, with socks or tights. Always wear shoes or slippers.
Tips for Around the House
Many slips, trips and falls happen when in or around the home. Here are some tips of simple changes that can be made around the home that can make a big difference.
- Remove trip hazards such as clutter and trailing wires. Avoid glass furniture as it can be harder to see and may cause falls.
- Move rugs and mats at the top or bottom of the stairs.
- Install a night light near the bed or motion activated lights just in case you wake up in the night.
- In the bath or shower, use a non-slip rubber mat and install grab rails if more support is needed
- In the kitchen and around the house, keep regularly used items at working height.
We all stumble or trip sometimes. The above are just some tips to avoid this from happening. If you are worried about a potential fall, think and plan ahead by discussing your fall risk with your doctor, install a personal alarm or a telecare system that can automatically alert staff at a response centre.