Are you growing older, into your senior years? Are you starting to become fearful of falling in your day to day life? With a little help you can eliminate some of the risks of falls using these tips and tricks to lead a more balanced life.
Let’s look at the causes of falls
As you age, your body changes and your vision may become impaired. You may notice that your bones are not as strong as they used to be, or you have a chronic illness like diabetes or arthritis. These health conditions and body changes can lead you to a higher risk of falls, particularly when paired with hazards around the home, such as:
- Stairs, particularly ones that aren’t obvious such as a single step into the kitchen
- Any type of rug
- Slippery surfaces such as the bathroom tiles
- Having footwear with soles that don’t grip
Being aware of these risks gives you the opportunity to take action before you suffer a fall.
How to recognise the symptoms of a fall
As falls are usually caused by hazards or body impairments, sometimes a combination of both, there are some signs that you can watch out for that can warn you you’re in danger of having a fall. These include:
- Pounding or irregular heartbeat
- Feeling weak
- Unsteadiness on your feet
When you notice any of these symptoms, sit down if you can make it to a chair or call for help. Having a glass of water and something to eat may help you to recover your balance in the short term.
If you have experienced a fall, or feel unsteady on your feet, it’s best to seek medical advice from your doctor as you may have an underlying medical condition. Your doctor will also evaluate your risk of falling and speak to you about specific ways you can reduce this.
Our occupational therapists can help you to make your home safer and more comfortable by doing an assessments of your home through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), and making suggestions for modifications. This might be as simple as adding rails to your bath or shower to make it easier for you to get in and out in slippery conditions.
For people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, or others who aren’t happy with their diet, speaking with a nutritionist may also help you to improve your diet and reduce the impact
We also run a program called ‘Finding Your Feet’ for those who have suffered a fall or just feel unsteady on their feet. Our trained physiotherapists work with you to improve your balance, coordination and strength, and it’s also a great way to meet people in a similar situation to you.
Read more about the Finding Your Feet program
Reducing your risk of falls
If a fall is severe, you can seriously injure yourself with broken bones, large cuts or head injuries. But, by recognising the symptoms and reducing your risks, falls can be prevented.
There are many simple and easy steps which can significantly reduce your risk of falling, including:
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle which will prevent weak and stiff muscles
- Marking the edges of steps so that they are seen more easily
- Cleaning up spills when they happen
- Wearing firm-fitting, cushioned shoes that grip to surfaces
- Ensuring your house/room has enough lighting, especially at night
- Using walk aids at all times if you need them
- Exercising regularly to keep your strength and balance