SIMPLE STEPS TO REDUCE FALL RISK
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that between 20-30% of people over the age of 65 fall every year. Fifty percent of falls happen within home environments and 17% at residential institutions. Here are a few tips to reduce your risk for falls:
1) Declutter your environment
Remove throw rugs! Though pretty to look at, I have seen too many falls related to tripping over these. If you have a family member finding it difficult to part with their throw rug, tape down the edges with double-stick tape. Compromise is key!
Keep cables out of high-traffic areas by fixing them to a wall or using a cable reel.
Remove any plants, boxes, or de corative pieces from high traffic areas to avoid unnecessary falls!
2) Proper lighting
As we age, it becomes normal to awake during the night 1 or more times to use the washroom. Moving around within dark environments and during the nighttime puts you at higher risk for falls as you do not have your vision to rely on.
Use a nightlight and make sure all lightbulbs are functioning well. It is also important to have well identified light switches that can be easily accessed.
3) Rethink storage spaces
Tasks such as climbing step ladders, reaching for high-up objects, and lifting heavy items can become challenging as we get older and have hazardous consequences.
Organize frequently used items on lower shelves and avoid using step ladders! Also, make sure items are not placed too deep within cupboards.
4) Get active
Make sure you are meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines for older adults which includes a combination of aerobic activity, strengthening exercises, and flexibility training.
Incorporating balance exercises, like Tai Chi, has also been showed to prevent fall risk in people > 65.
Applying these simple, but effective solutions can contribute to lowering your loved ones risk for falls and maintaining their independence. Many preventative measures can be taken in addition to those mentioned in this article to reduce fall risk.
Are you afraid of falling or do you have a friend/family member you are worried for?
A physiotherapist can help by assessing your situation, or that of your loved one, and determining solutions.