It’s April Falls Month, so here’s where we aim to educate our clients, their carers, family and the wider community about falls risks.
At least one-third of community-living Australians aged 65 years and over fall every year, with even higher rates for people in aged-care facilities and hospitals.
As falls can result in permanent disability, restriction of activity and loss of confidence, they can severely reduce the quality of life and independence of individuals, often resulting in hospital admissions and even early transition to residential care.
Our OT’s have prepared 10 top tips to help manage the risk of falls for you or a loved one:
1. Keep your home safe
Clear away any clutter or tripping hazards in your home and address any uneven surfaces. Ensure all areas have proper lighting, and install handrails in areas such as bathrooms and staircases.
2. Get Active
Exercise can improve balance, flexibility, strength, bone density and systemic health, and it reduces the risk of falls. Tai Chi, yoga and walking are all great options.
3. Check your vision
Regular vision checks can ensure that glasses and contacts are up to date and helps detect any vision problems like cataracts that may increase your risk of falls. Sunglasses are also vital for managing glare and changes in lighting when going from indoors to outside. Remember glasses can only help you if you remember to wear them!
4. Wear proper footwear
Shoes need to be sturdy, comfortable and provide good support. Wearing rubber sole footwear and having non-slip strips in bathrooms, and on step edges all make a difference. Having your shoes properly fitted makes a difference, as sloppy footwear increases falls risks.
5. Consider assistive devices
If you need a little extra help getting around, using a cane, walker or knee scooter can help maintain your freedom and independence. Seek advice to make sure you have the right device and it has been set to the correct height for you to use safely.
6. Adequate nutrition and hydration
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy and robust diet to keep your body strong and energised.
7. Watch for dizziness
If you are feeling woozy or light-headed take a break and sit down for a few minutes. Remember, when you stand up take a second to get your balance and adjust before you start to move. It’s better to slow down than take a tumble.
8. Manage your medications (including non-prescription ones)
Some medications can increase the risk of falls, especially those that affect balance or drowsiness. Review your medications regularly with your healthcare provider.
9. Personal Alarms
If you are concerned that you may fall, you can buy a personal alarm that can be worn around your neck or wrist, or carried in a pocket. Some alarms are activated if the wearer falls, while others are only activated if you push a button. Some work only in the home, while others also work when you are out and about in the community. There are a variety available and your allied health provider can help you select what is best for your situation.
10. You don’t have to do this alone!
Frequent falls and the fear of falling significantly impacts one’s well-being and quality of life. Connecting with allied health professionals (Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists or Exercise Physiologists) can be a vital step in reducing falls-related hazards. They can assist in assessing your home environment, your physical function and provide education and strategies to minimise risk of future falls.
So what next?
At Recovery Station, our multidisciplinary clinicians help people to remain full participants in their life, staying in their homes longer, pursuing the activities they enjoy and remaining connected to their community.
If you don’t know where to begin or need some assistance contact Recovery Station on 1300 588 851.
Until next time,