Falls are not an inevitable part of illness or ageing. However, they do occur easily with significant results. A serious injury can result in surgery and months in hospital. Ten percent of falls result in hospitalisation.
Be aware though that slips, trips, near misses and falls may be an early indicator of a medical condition. If you are experiencing these, you should seek assistance from your Doctor.
A fall can significantly reduce confidence. Having confidence in yourself and your environment is essential.
The good news is that falls can be easily prevented. A range of simple actions have been found to reduce the risk of falls in and around the home.
Completing simple actions to prevent falls is important. It will assist you to maintain a sense of safety, confidence, independence and wellbeing.
Risk factors for falls are either personal or environmental:
Personal risk factors are related to your health and dress. They include (but not exclusive to):
- low vision,
- shortness of breath,
- numbness in the legs,
- previous falls,
- reduced balance,
- poor footwear,
- poorly managed medications,
- alcohol use,
- inadequate nutrition and
- muscle weakness or joint pain / weakness.
Low levels of physical activity can create some personal risk factors. Chronic Respiratory Conditions by their nature will reduce physical activity. Talk to your health professional about maintaining levels of physical activity while maintaining available energy levels for other activities and managing shortness of breath.
Environmental factors include (but not exclusive to):
- trip hazards (such as loose power cords, loose or slipping mats and uneven paths, long bed covers),
- slippery floor surfaces,
- poor lighting and
The greater number of risk factors, the higher the chance of falling.
Addressing these risk factors can be simple:
Personal risk factors may be addressed by:
- A review of your medications by your Doctor or Pharmacist.
- Re-thinking when you drink alcohol, what type of alcohol you use and how much you drink.
- Shortness of breath in activities can be addressed through medical management and energy conservation techniques (Occupational Therapy).
- You may benefit from a dietician review to address inadequate nutrition.
- Physiotherapy can help improve muscle strength and balance.
- A podiatrist can look at your foot strength and footwear.
- An Optometrist can determine the best solutions for low vision and lighting.
- An Occupational Therapist can formerly assess your risk of falls.
- You may benefit from a walking aid.
Environmental risk factors can be addressed by an Occupational Therapist who can assess your home environment (environmental risk factors) and make recommendations such as:
- removal of trip hazards,
- improving lighting and
- installing assistance where required (such as grab rails, improved home access etc).
The aim of Falls Prevention measures is to prepare you and your home. It is essential that you are confident (not fearful) and as independent and safe as possible. This is the role of Occupational Therapy.
(Article supplied by Beth Dermer from DOTS)