Essential information for reducing the risk of falls among the elderly
Our Physiotherapist Katy regularly provides rehabilitation for people after they've had a fall. She recently went in to a local care home to do a talk on 'falls prevention', as a fall can have a significant impact on a person's life and health. There are simple changes that can be made within the home environment to reduce the risk of having a fall. Tailored exercises can also help to strengthen the muscles and improve balance. We have compiled our top strategies for falls prevention, to help you or a relative reduce the risk of falling.
Tips for preventing falls in the home environment:
-Remove any clutter / furniture covering floor area, that may make turning areas tight.
-Organise the room so that items are on a level where bending / stretching / leaning is kept to a minimum.
-Avoid any fraying carpets / rugs and trailing wires across the carpet.
-Using non-slip mats or rugs - particularly in the bathroom where the floor will become wet.
Immediately mop up any spillages, particularly on non-carpeted surfaces.
-Avoid walking in socks or bare feet where possible – particularly on potentially slippery floors such as the bathroom floor, as socks have no grip. Also you may step on something sharp, which may be painful or cause an injury.
-Avoid wearing loose fitting, trailing clothes that may cause a trip, something more fitted around the ankle or shorter will reduce the risk of this happening.
-Wearing well fitting shoes that are in good condition, support the ankle and have a back to them. Slip on shoes are far more likely to move around when walking, and can be a trip hazard.
-Fit bright, high-wattage light bulbs into lamps and light fittings, to ensure you or your relative can see clearly.
-Ask for help with tasks that you or your relative cannot to do safely, even if it is just for supervision
-Taking care of both feet, and ensuring toe nails are kept short and trimmed regularly.
-Pacing when walking, to avoid rushing and becoming short of breath. Falls can occur when a person is rushing. Have regular breaks in between if required.
-Ensure the appropriate walking aid is being used, and is the correct height. A health professional can check this for you if you are unsure.
Strength and Balance exercises: A strength and balance training programme can help to reduce the risk of falls, as the body will be stronger and more receptive. This should be tailored to an individual, as the appropriate exercises will vary according to strength, mobility and ability. This can be prescribed and monitored by a Physiotherapist or health professional, and the exercises can be progressed as improvement occurs. Medication Review: The NHS recommend that regular medication is reviewed at least yearly, to see whether it is still appropriate. It is important to discuss any medication side effects with the doctor, as dizziness symptoms can increase the risk of falls. Sight Test: Having a sight test performed regularly can identify any health conditions and changes in vision. Visual deterioration can affect balance and co-ordination, and as such increase risk of falling. Alcohol: Alcohol reduces co-ordination and reaction speed, therefore consumption can increase the risk of falls. Alcohol can also react with certain medicines and cause side effects, and excessive consumption can contribute to the development of Osteoporosis. Avoiding or reducing the amount of alcohol being consumed can help to reduce the risk of falling. Please feel free to contact us on 01279 882 518 to see how we can help you or a relative reduce the risk of falling.