Falling over is something that many older people fear. Yet falling is not a given as you age. There are many things you can do to stay steady on your feet and safe in your home to prevent falls as you age.
1. Improve your Strength and Balance
Good strength and balance are one of the key things that helps to prevent a fall. Staying strong in the legs and core muscles and working on your balance can be achieved through regular exercise. Canterbury has a strategic approach to falls prevention, with a strength and balance programme for every level of ability.
There are specific strength and balance exercises classes run in your local community.
If you have mobility restrictions or are at risk of falls, a personalised strength and balance programme is advised. Talk to your GP or practice nurse or us at Thrive (link to contact page) about the best approach for your needs. Walking is also good exercise to continue to do as much as possible.
2. Install handrails and non-slip mats
Handrails help to prevent falls in older people. It’s a good idea to install handrails sooner rather than later. Make sure you install handrails and a non-slip mat in the bathroom to enable you to safely get in and out of the shower or bath. A rail beside the toilet helps with getting on and off and also to hold onto while adjusting clothing.
Handrails at entrances, especially where there are steps or stairs are also essential.
At Thrive we can help you work out where the best placement of handrails would be in your home and we can arrange a tradesperson to install them. See Livestronger for a home safety checklist you can do yourself.
3. Light up your home
As you age, and your vision begins to fail, extra lighting is required. It’s amazing what a difference to safety and independence as well as ease of living, some extra lighting makes. Lighting up hallways, bathrooms and entrances makes hazards and changes in surfaces more perceptible. Exterior walkways and driveways should have ample light, especially in these darker winter months. Extra lighting in the kitchen and workspaces not only helps to prevent trips and slips but makes finding things and cleaning easier too. To achieve extra lighting think about changing to lightbulbs with higher lumens, using task-lighting or lamps, changing the colour of painted walls to a brighter, lighter colour and allowing more daylight into windows. For advice about lighting up your home, get in touch with us at Thrive.
4. Move mindfully
One of the reasons many people fall is because they are rushing, not paying attention or because they are trying to do more than is safe for the circumstances, such as trying to carry a heavy load of shopping in when it’s raining. Be aware. Move carefully. Go slowly. Think about where you are placing your feet. Pay attention to your environment, being aware of slippery leaves, frosty patches or changes in floor surfaces that might cause a slip. If you are tired or unwell, pay particular attention when you are moving around or moving from sitting to standing. Yoga and Tai Chi are useful practices to cultivate mindful movement. There is a tai chi video on YouTube you might like to try out…
5. Attend to your feet and shoes
Make sure your footwear is supportive, fits well and has good grip on the sole. Wear good footwear both inside the home as well as out and about. Slopping around in slippers creates a risk of falling. If getting shoes and socks on or off is difficult, there are all sorts of strategies to enable independence, from long handled shoe horns, elastic shoelaces or Velcro fastenings. We at Thrive (link to contact page) can help you with this challenge. If your feet hurt and wearing shoes is uncomfortable, see a podiatrist for advice.
At Thrive we care about you staying safe and independent in your home. Give us a call if you or your loved one would like help to turn the suggestions above into actions! Don’t forget to share this article with a friend.
Catherine: 027 221 9071 Louise: 021 0231 3482