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Falls prevention for older people

There are different reasons why older people tend to fall while walking. Once this fall happens, it can cause serious injury for older people.

Reasons that contribute to an older person falling are:

· Poor balance

· A weak body (especially joints and muscles)

· Vision problems

· A loss of sense of feeling in parts of their body e.g. feet

· General health problems

· Not enough calcium in the bones

· Loose shoes

· Trip hazards such as dim lights or uneven floors

· Dehydrated body

· Lack of exercise or overall physical activities

There is an estimation that people age 65 and older fall over one or more times a year. These falls can lead to injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, dislocations, head injuries, bruises and sprains. They can also lead to reduced confidence getting around and an increased fear of further falls.

A fear of falling or tripping over can reduce a person’s confidence and restrict their levels of physical activity. The Well Balanced Centre Physiotherapy service can help prevent falls for older people.

Falls prevention

By promoting better balance and preventing falls, injuries can hopefully be reduced in older people. Physical and environmental changes can help make a person stay steadier on their feet and so reduce the risk of falling.

1. Make sure your house is safe

To avoid falls and injuries from them, make sure that your home is always safe. Take measures to improve the safety in and around your home. Ensuring a safe home environment is the first prevention measure you can take to reduce falls and tripping for older people.

It can sometimes be tedious changing things around your home but it is worth doing to help prevent falls.

Here are some tips on how to make your house a safe place for older people:

Inside the house

· Look at the lights inside your house. If you have dim lights it might be worth replacing them for brighter ones. Lights are used to see well and poor lighting can lead to falls and tripping. Change the lights in your home to clear bright lights. If there are stairs inside your house, change the lights around them too so that the steps are easier to see.

· Remove any unwanted objects in your corridors or living areas. Clutter can be a big factor in increasing falls risk.

· Ensure any carpets / rugs in your house aren’t damaged or in a place where they can be tripped on. Often older people can catch their feet on worn carpets or loose rugs.

· Ensure that the tables around your house don’t have sharp corners and make sure that the beds and chairs are strong enough to support you.

· Consider installing grab rails around your home to assist with safe transfers e.g. getting in/out of the shower or bath or climbing the stairs.

· Try to not wear clothes that are too long enough as they can get caught in your feet and trip you up.

Outside the house

· Make sure that the outside of your house is well-illuminated, not just the inside.

· Ensure paths and areas outside your home are well maintained. Broken pathways can increase trip hazards.

· Paths over hung with foliage can be treacherous to walk on as can the presence of moss which can become slippery when wet.

· Install grab rails on steps outside your house.

· Consider painting the edges of steps outside your house with white paint so they can be easily seen.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

The next step is to make sure you keep healthy. Ensure you are eating a health and balanced diet. Carrying out regular exercise that is suitable for you is also important. Exercising helps to promote strength and balance and so reduce your risk of falling.

3. Wear the right footwear

Ensure you wear shoes that are comfortable enough to walk around in and carry out your daily activities.

Also wear shoes that fit your feet well. Shoes that are too big will not support your feet and can increase your risk of falling.

Try to avoid wearing heels and make sure your shoes are wide enough on the part of your toes. Avoid slip on shoes as these can easily slide off when walking and become a trip hazard.

Some shoes have slip-resistant soles which are beneficial for older people.

The Well Balanced Centre and Falls Prevention

The Well Balanced Centre provides a Physiotherapy at home service to address your specific needs and concerns to reduce your risk of falls and make you feel more steady and confident on your feet. We work directly with you and tailor our treatment programmes to your own goals. By treating you in your own home environment we can address many of the factors outlined above and help improve your quality of life. Contact us to book your assessment.

Article Phoenix

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