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How to prevent falls at home
The thought of falling at home can be a worry for both you and your family. And with the World Health Organisation (WHO) reporting adults over the age of 65 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls, it’s understandable that you might be anxious about falls. Experiencing a fall can not only result in injury, but it can also lead to a loss in confidence and reduced independence, as you begin to fear moving around and doing things for yourself, as well as the likelihood of hospital admissions that could have been avoided.
Luckily, there are some easy lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk. Some simple and straightforward measures can drastically reduce your likelihood of falling in your own home, ensuring you stay safe and helping you feel more confident as you move around with assurance and ease. Here are 10 ways you can increase your own safety and prevent falls… helping you to remain healthy and happy at home.
Reduce your risk
1. Remove clutter
Everything from footstools and pet food bowls to electrical cords and phone lines can become trip hazards, increasing your likelihood of falling. Tidy items away to keep your floors as clear as possible. Arrange your larger furniture to allow for freedom of movement. Having to twist and turn around large, bulky furniture items can set you off balance and cause a fall. Make sure your furniture is arranged in such a way that you have clear, wide spaces to walk around your rooms. Enlist the help of a relative, friend or carer to move heavy items for you.
2. Ensure all carpets and rugs are secured
Make sure your carpets are securely fitted and use non-slip rugs, or secure loose rugs with rug gripper (double-sided adhesive tape that will stop them slipping).
3. Mop up spills straight away
Try to avoid wet floors whenever possible. Use non-slip bath mats whenever you’re in your bathroom, and always mop up any water or drink spillages straight away, to avoid hazardous, slippery surfaces.
4. Ensure rooms are well lit
Poor lighting can increase your risk of falls. Make sure your rooms, entrances and stairs are well lit, using the highest recommended bulb wattage for each light fixture. If you need to get up in the night, make sure you turn on a bedside lamp or nightlight before getting out of bed, so you can see your surroundings properly.
5. Use handrails
“Going upstairs with little support can potentially lead to a fall, so always use the handrail when walking up and down the stairs,” says Rikki Lorenti, Admiral Nurse at SweetTree. If you feel unsteady and require extra support, you can arrange to have an additional handrail fitted, so you can hold on each side, as well as having handrails fitted along your hallways and landings.
6. Have grip rails installed
Well-placed grip rails installed alongside your bath and toilet can assist you when standing and sitting in your bathroom. Make sure you use these every time you use the toilet or bath/shower.
7. Do strength and balance exercises
“If you find yourself using furniture to help you balance, or if you need to push with your hands to stand up from a chair, it is a sign of poor balance and strength,” says Rikki. Regular exercise will help to improve your strength and balance, therefore reducing your chance of falling. In fact, according to Age UK, a tailored exercise programme can reduce your likelihood of a fall by as much as 54 per cent. To be effective, your exercise programme needs to be done two to three times a week, and you should seek advice and support from a professional instructor. You can find classes suitable for your ability at your local sports centre, social group, or simply ask your SweetTree carer to help you investigate local fitness instructors.
8. Take care of your feet
If you’re experiencing foot pain or have difficulty trimming your own toenails, you are more at risk of experiencing a fall. Your GP will be able to recommend a good podiatrist or chiropodist. “As well as this, ill-fitting shoes can potentially cause falls, so make sure yours are the correct size,” adds Rikki.
9. Book an eye test
If you’re often stumbling, bumping into things or have problems with vision, including depth perception, make sure you see an optician. Having an eye test to correct any loss in vision is vital to help prevent falls.
10. Use a personal alarm
Finally, if the worst does happen and you experience a fall while you are alone in your home, make sure you have a contingency plan. A personal alarm (worn either as a pendant around your neck or as a wristband) will allow you to alert assistance 24/7, giving you peace of mind that help is on its way. These are available from Age UK by calling 0800 028 8782.