Falls are a major health issue with around 30% of Australians over 65 years experiencing at least one fall per year. Most elderly people fall in and around their home, but falls are also common in aged care facilities. An injury, such as a broken leg or hip, as a result of a fall can lead to major life changes, such as where you can live.
Your chances of falling may be increased if you’ve had a fall in the past six months. Other risk factors include:
- Home hazards such as loose shoes, slippery tiles, steps, rugs on the floor and other trip hazards.
- Sensory and balance problems including muscle weakness, low vision or blindness and reduced sensation.
- Medication (side effects) and changes in medication.
- Chronic diseases including Parkinson’s, dementia, hypotension (low blood pressure), diabetes, arthritis, stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression.
- Short term illness (such as colds or flu or other infection) or during recovery, post-surgery.
Reducing the Risk of Falling
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent falls and minimise injuries if you do fall including:
- Eating healthy and nutritious food and drinking enough fluids
- Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, with regular exercise to prevent your muscles weakening and joints stiffening such as tai chi
- Taking medication only as prescribed and discussing any side effects with your doctor
- Wearing the right shoes – comfortable, firm-fitting, flat shoes with a low wide heel, laces, buckles or Velcro fastenings and rubber soles that grip
- Hazard proofing your home to make it as safe as possible – removing slip or trip hazards like loose rugs or mats and repairing or replacing worn areas of carpets
- Ensuring adequate lighting, especially at night
- If applicable, always using your walking aid
- Installing grab rails in the bathroom
- Keeping pathways around your home clean and in good repair
- Marking the edge of steps so they’re easier to see.
In some instances, wearing hip protectors or limb protectors can help prevent hip fractures and skins tears.
Home maintenance and modification services are available that can help to make your home safer and more secure. They can install:
- grab and shower rails
- hand rails
- ramps and other mobility aids
- emergency alarms and other safety aids.
How your GP can help
If you’ve had a fall, or, if you or someone you care for is at greater risk of falling, make an appointment to discuss this with your GP. Your doctor can provide tailored advice about how to prevent falls, particularly if you have one or more of the chronic health conditions mentioned above.
“We can review your medications and may refer you to other health professionals such as rehabilitation specialists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists,” said Dr Jeffrey Hall.
“If you’ve already had a fall, try share as much information as you can with your GP about the when and where you fell, what you were doing and how you were feeling just before the fall,” he said.
To make an appointment to see your GP, call 4284 4622 or book online.
For more information about falls prevention visit: