Approximately 20-30% of Canadians over the age of 65 fall each year. Many of these falls can be prevented by taking simple steps to ensure safety. We share tips for preventing falls.
Reduce Obstacles around your Home
The most preventable method to reduce the risk of falling is to clean up obstacles around your home that may increase the risk of tripping or slipping. For example, tidy up any clutter around your house and keep it away from your walking paths. Remove any rugs around your home that might be easily tripped over or secure them to the floor. A fun way to help declutter is to analyze your home with family members or friends and create a 'scavenger hunt' activity to identify any areas of concern.
Install Grab Bars or use Assistive Devices where Needed
Grab bars and assistive devices should be used for prevention, meaning it is a good idea to install them prior to any accidents occurring. For example, grab bars are easy to install near toilets, sinks, showers and bathtubs, or in your bedroom. They are a cost effective item that can be that extra support when you might need it most. If you begin noticing concerns moving throughout your home, think about using an assistive device, such as a cane or walker. Speak to your doctor about what you are experiencing and what they recommend for you. There are many resources available to help cover the costs of assistive devices, inquire about these options prior to purchasing a brand new item.
Practice Balance Exercises
If you are willing and able, balance exercises are a great way to prevent falls and to maintain your physical health. Make an appointment with a physical therapist to learn some new balance exercises that you can implement throughout your day. These simple exercises can be carried out anywhere and are a great way to start your day.
Wear Proper Footwear
Purchase a supportive, non-slip shoe that will help to reduce the chances of falling. Even if you are heading out the door to quickly grab something, always ensure you are wearing proper footwear. Investing in a good pair of shoes is definitely worth it and helps keep you safe.
Ensure Proper Lighting throughout your Home
With the change of seasons, there is also a change in sunlight. Setup your home so that there is adequate lighting and if you feel it is difficult to see at times, install more lamps throughout your home. LED lights are much brighter, last longer, and are much more efficient. Consider installing LED lights in your home. Additionally, leave a light on when you go to bed. In the case nature calls overnight, this way you will have light to help guide you. Another way to help light your home is through the use of nightlights or lights for your outlets. Adequate lighting in your home is important not to trip over anything and to see where you are going.
Place Non-Slip Mat in the Shower or Bathtub
This is a great installation no matter your age! Non-slip mats help to protect us when getting into and out of the shower or bathtub and provide an extra cushion throughout. They are a great safety feature to install and are relatively low in cost.
Maintain a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated
Individuals who might not be getting all of their nutrients or are dehydrated often feel faint or dizzy. A way to avoid these feelings especially with age is to maintain a healthy diet and to stay hydrated. Ensure you are getting the proper nutrients you need and keep an eye on your sugar levels and your blood pressure.
Recognize any Side Effects from Medications
If you recently started a new medication and notice feelings of faintness or dizziness, reach out to your doctor and express these side effects. They can help to mitigate these side effects or change your medication so that you have a lower risk of falling.
Learn how to Fall Safely
Lastly, if you ever encounter a fall, it is important to know how to fall safely to reduce the risk of injury. Speak with your doctor or physiotherapist on tips to falling properly and safely. These most often include staying in a bent position, protecting your head, and positioning your body in a way that will lead to the least amount of injuries. Do not be afraid of falling but rather know how to fall and prevent injuries before they happen.
What do you do to prevent falls? Share with us in the comments below!
Government of Canada (2014, April 10). Seniors' Falls in Canada: Second Report. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/aging-seniors/publications/publications-general-public/seniors-falls-canada-second-report.html#s1