Every year, an estimated one out of three individuals aged 65 and over falls at home. While most of those falls are minor, they are one of the main causes of injury in the elderly. Happily, there are a number of ways to prevent these accidents.
Keep moving! Regular physical activity maintains strength, balance, coordination and flexibility – all essential in preventing falls. Activities that keep the body alert include walking, aquafitness, cycling, cross-country skiing and dancing.
Choose sensible shoes Your risk of losing your balance increases when you walk in high-heeled shoes, or in shoes that are ill-fitting or have poor-quality soles.
- Get your feet measured before buying new shoes, as your feet change as you age.
- Only buy shoes that are immediately comfortable when you first try them on.
- Avoid shoes that have high heels or thick soles.
Remove clutter from walkways People often trip on decorative objects or other little items around the home.
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electric cords and other obstacles from walkways.
- Secure decorative rugs to the floor.
- Repair damaged flooring as soon as possible.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other household necessities within easy reach.
- Use a nonslip mat in the bathtub or shower
Light up your living environment As you age, less light reaches the back of your eyes, so it is important to keep your living space well lit.
- Keep a bedside lamp that you can easily reach from your bed.
- Create a lit path to light switches that are away from room entrances. Consider installing glow-in-the-dark switches.
- Ensure staircases are well lit.
Use assistive devices to help you perform everyday tasks There are many accessories – other than walking aids such as a cane or walker – that can help you perform everyday tasks. Discuss this with your doctor, who will refer you to an occupational therapist if necessary.
Certain illnesses and medication can also increase the risk of falling. Consulting your doctor or pharmacist may be helpful in determining whether changes should be made to your medication in order to reduce your risk of falling. You will feel safer as a result!