It’s an unfortunate fact that the older we get, the frailer we become and the more brittle our bones; both delivering an increased risk of broken bones, trauma, health complications and reduced independence. With injury-related deaths being the most common in those over 75 years, what can we do to reduce the of risk of falls for our loved ones?
Whether health-related - muscle weakness, balance, vision, health conditions, even medication side effects, for example – or environmental, such as wet floors, poor lighting, tripping on carpets or rugs in the home, going up and down stairs etc, there are various changes that can be made to help reduce the risk and eliminate hazards. Even the clothes and shoes you wear are a consideration –footwear that supports your ankles and avoid wearing anything that is too long or loose, which could cause you to trip or can caught up on something, resulting in loss of balance.
Health is obviously a key consideration. Try to keep active. Movement and regular exercise will aid strength and balance. Walking or other forms of gentle exercise also helps blood flow and is great for our mental health and overall wellbeing.
If you have any heath concerns, speak to your GP. Health checks for balance and muscle strength and medication reviews are considerations and if any health conditions are identified, then you GP is best placed to offer advice and make any referrals.
Our homes should be our safe haven, so removing any potential hazards can greatly reduce the risk of fall or injury. For example:
· Rethink the layout of furniture etc in the areas of your home that get the most use – remove furniture, cables and anything else that’s in the way
· Secure (or remove) rugs in place and repair any damaged flooring (floorboards, carpet etc).
· Use non-slip mats in the bath, shower and on the bathroom floor. You could also consider installing a seat and/or handrail in the shower.
· Organise your home to suit you and your ability levels, to avoid having to stretch and bend in awkwardly.
· Make sure your rooms are well-lit, especially if you have poor vision – a night light in bedrooms and bathrooms are also an idea.
· Adaptions to our home can help keep independence longer as well as making it easier to navigate – grab rails, stairlifts, lowering the height of worktops etc can all help and there is often funding and grants available to help with the cost.
One last, very important note is to ask for help!
Acknowledging that we can no longer do everything ourselves is often hard, but if it’s the difference between keeping safe and well, then it is always best to ask for help. Whether from family and friends, home care support services such as Pure Heart, or via your local authority who can carry out a Needs Assessment to help arrange support.