slips trips and falls safety

In 2011-12, more than 90 000 Australians aged over sixty-five* were hospitalised for fall-related injuries. Many of these accidents occurred in and around the home. There are three important considerations for seniors to prevent fall injuries. Firstly, review your health regimen. Secondly, be aware that you are not as light on your feet as you once were and compensate accordingly. Finally, an assessment of your home can identify danger areas where slips and trips are most likely to occur.

Watch Your Health

Remaining as healthy as possible through exercise and regular check-ups can greatly reduce your chances of having a fall. Consider the following suggestions to remain injury-free.

Strength and weight training: As you age, strength and balance can deteriorate. Taking part in regular, light exercise programs which focus on these factors is important. Tai Chi or a custom-designed gym workout are ideal.

Doctor visits: If you are having episodes where you feel weak, light-headed or dizzy, inform your doctor. Side effects from medication or an ear disorder are possible causes.

Optometrist visits: Many slips and trips occur because of failing eyesight. Visit your optometrist regularly to identify and treat vision problems.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the state of being focussed in the present moment. Seniors often fall because of momentary lapses in concentration. Here are ways to be constantly aware of your surroundings so that you do not slip or trip.

  1. Walk slowly and carefully. Always use aids such as railings or your cane and wear sensible shoes.
  2. Look around you as you walk. Look down and at chair level. Perhaps your grandchild has moved a piece of furniture or your pet has knocked an item over. Be observant so you won’t slip or trip on unexpected obstacles.
  3. Never enter a darkened room without turning on the lights first. If going out at night, leave porch lights on so that your entrance is well lit when you return.
  4. Do not be tempted to rush. Even if you are answering the phone or the door, take your time.

Fall-Proof Your Home

As you age, it is important to remove as much clutter as possible from your home. You might also consider installing aids which help with mobility and fall prevention. Here are some easy ways to make your home safer.

  • Make sure that there is plenty of room to walk freely with no obstacles such as furniture or pet toys in the way.
  • Make sure your floor coverings are slip and trip proof. Remove mats, nail down carpets and put non-slip strips or paint on steps and bathroom areas.
  • Put handrails or grab rails on steps, in the bathroom and in the toilet.
  • Identify any areas of your home which may be too dark and install strong lighting.
  • Put everything in your home within easy reach so that you do not need to stretch or climb to get an item.

You might wish to review the information presented on Independent Living Centres Australia to find ideas for fall-proofing your home.

Falls Are Preventable

Falls are not caused by old age, but rather, deteriorating health and lack of diligence. As part of the Australian government’s aged care packages, you may be eligible for fitness and rehabilitation services or home maintenance and modifications. Ask your loved ones or your in-home care provider for assistance with accessing appropriate advice in order to remain active and injury-free.

*Statistic from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Image credit: "The Fountain of Youth" (cropped) by Alex Proimos. (Creative Commons Attribution-Attribution 2.0 Generic)

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