Preventing Falls in the Home
In this blog we explore some of the factors that contribute to falls and how you can use mobility equipment to help in preventing falls in the home.
Every year in the UK more than 6,000 people die in accidents in the home
Falls are the largest cause of emergency hospital admissions in older people. Around half of all falls happen at home which means that there are some precautions that you can take that will help in preventing falls in the home.
One-third of people over 65 will fall at least once a year. As we age many of the changes to our bodies make falls more likely.
Reasons Why Older People Are At Risk
Many older people are much more likely to fall because of some of the following contributing factors:
- Balance issues
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired vision
- Health conditions
- Foot problems
- BMI (either low weight or obesity)
Some health conditions, medications and footwear can affect your ability to stay steady on your feet.
Changes to health can happen gradually, so you might not even notice. Therefore, it is important to have regular check ups so that any issues can be identified before they become serious.
Some medications can make you feel dizzy and could affect your balance. Always let your doctor know if you experience side effects like these after taking any medication. They might be able to prescribe an alternative or check the dose that you are taking.
Take care of your eyes. Poor vision is a main contributor to trips and falls. Have your eyes checked every year and if you have glasses then make sure that you wear them.
Hearing can also deteriorate as we age. Talk to your doctor as soon as you think your hearing has deteriorated. Hearing problems can seriously affect your balance. The problem may be something easily treated, such as a build-up of ear wax, or it may be that you need a hearing aid.
Combined sight and hearing problems can make it difficult to maintain your balance.
There are many mobility products that not only allow people to maintain their independence and remain in their homes but that also make the environment safer. Many of these are instrumental in preventing falls in the home.
Rise and Recliner Chairs
Riser and recliner chairs are an effective solution to overcome various mobility issues, increase independence and protect against falls and accidents in the home. They are particularly useful for someone who struggles to get out of their chair or is more at risk from falls when standing up.
Electric profiling beds are a great solution for anyone that needs help to sit up or to get out of bed. Many of these beds are height adjustable which can help in preventing falls in the home.
Unsurprisingly, falls on the stairs are the place where most deaths and major injuries happen in the home.
Many of the reasons explored earlier can make stairs difficult to negotiate for older people.
Factors such as muscle weakness may also make it more difficult to prevent a fall from happening and can cause balance issues which are extremely problematic when going up or down a flight of stairs.
For those who struggle with getting up and down stairs, installing a stairlift is an excellent way of preventing falls in the home. Stairlifts can be fitted to most stairs and allow you to stay safe, maintain independence and remain in your home without the worry of falling.
A typical bathroom contains multiple trip and slip hazards. Anyone can have a fall in the bathroom. But older people and individuals with limited mobility or poor balance have an increased risk.
There are many slippery surfaces so it is no surprise that there are multiple hazards that are particularly challenging for those with balance issues etc.
As well as wet flooring, there’s a risk of losing balance getting in and out of the bath or shower. Plus, there often isn’t much to hold onto if you need support.
We highly recommend installing grab rails around the bathroom to prevent falls. This will give the individual more stability as they move around.
At first, it may not seem as obvious a fall risk as using the bath but getting on and off the toilet requires a lot of lower body strength.
Not only do grab rails give them something to hold onto, but they increase their confidence by giving peace of mind that support is there if they need it.
For someone who becomes unsteady on their feet after standing for long periods, a shower chair can be a great tool for preventing falls.
If these adaptations are not enough and someone is still struggling, then there is the option of a fully adapted bathroom.
A walk-in shower has level access which allows you to walk straight in. This makes this type of bathroom adaptation a very good choice for anyone with balance issues or muscle weakness.
- Make sure your shoes fit well and don’t slip off
- Well cushioned shoes offer comfort and support
- Avoid sandals with little support and shoes with high heels
- Wear slippers that have a good grip, that fasten securely and stay on well
- Always wear shoes or slippers and never walk indoors in bare feet, sock or tights.
As we get older, our muscle strength and balance reduces, which can lead to a fall. Exercises designed to improve muscle strength can reduce your risk of a fall by improving your posture, coordination and balance.
Many local community centers and sport facilities offer exercise classes for older people.
It’s important that any exercises that you undertake are tailored for you and your ability and are under the instruction of a trained professional. Your GP will be able to tell you about classes in your area.
We hope that the advice in this blog has been useful. If you are concerned about your mobility, or would like more information on mobility products and adaptations for your home or for a loved one’s home, then please get in touch.