Helpful tips to prevent falls in the home

Falls and fractures are a serious health issue for older people in the UK. More than one-third of people aged 65 and older fall each year, and around half of people aged 80 and over, fall at least once a year. And stats show that those who fall once are two – three times more likely to fall again.

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries and are responsible for significant disability, hospitalisation, loss of independence and reduced quality of life.

We’ve pulled together some helpful tips which could help you to protect your loved ones.

Practice strengthening exercises

Balance and co-ordination can be greatly improved through exercise. Exercise that improves strength, reaction time and aerobic capacity is the best way to maintain strong muscles and balance. The most effective exercises focus on balance and strength building and can be integrated easily into every day life.

Here are some examples, though they should be carried out as appropriate for the individual’s current strength and balance:

  • Hold onto the sink and stand on one leg while brushing teeth.
  • While talking on the telephone, hold onto the wall and lean to one side, then the other to improve balance.
  • While putting laundry away, bend the knees and then straighten the legs to build muscle strength.

Make small changes in the home

Take a look at everything both inside and outside the house from lighting to interior rugs. It is important to remove clutter and rugs from high-traffic areas and stairs. Make sure that rooms are well lit. Place things in easy reach to avoid reaching or climbing on chairs. Home modifications can also include encouraging your loved one to wear non-slip footwear in the house.

Check all medication

Medications, especially antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can cause dizziness and fall hazards. Check with your loved one’s doctor about the side effects of any medication that they may take on a regular basis.

Some supplements such as vitamin D and calcium may help to prevent falls. Check with their doctor though before giving them any supplements to ensure that they don’t interfere with the efficacy of any prescription medications.

Does your loved one wear glasses?

It has long been suspected that bifocals may contribute to the danger of falls for older people. A recent study confirms this, saying “…wearers of multifocal glasses have a high risk of falls when outside their homes and when walking up or down stairs.”

The study also found that multifocal and bifocal glasses impair depth perception and make it more difficult to navigate steps and raised surfaces. When researchers provided seniors with single lens distance prescriptions to wear outdoors, falls were decreased by 40%. It may pay to have two pairs of glasses – a single lens pair with a distance prescription for walking and going up and down stairs, etc and bifocals as needed at home.

We hope that you’ve found these little tips helpful.