Risk Assess Your Home
One in three people over the age of 65 will fall in a year. Of these falls 6 out of 10 of them will be in the home or garden. The risk of falls unfortunately increases with age with half of those over 80 having at least one fall in a year. Experts believe that a large proportion of falls can be prevented with some changes to lifestyle and our environments. This blog will focus on ways we can change our home environments to help limit the risks and prevent elderly falls at home.
The most important thing is if you have had a fall and not told anyone about it please discuss it with your GP or Nurse Practitioner. Sometimes simple things such as a review of medication, vision or blood pressure can be of help.
Things to look at in your home environment are:-
- Lighting – 60 year old eyes need three times the light of 20 year old eyes. Do bulbs need replacing? If you are up and down for the toliet at night (3 to 6 million of us are) a torch by the bed may come in handy or a switch to put the lights on. Are you confident and happy on the stairs, would extra lighting here help? Obviously, DON’T WALK AROUND IN THE DARK.
- Check around the home for trailing cables that might be a trip hazard.
- If you do get up in the night always remember to switch the lights on. Falls are obviously more likely in the dark.
- Checks rugs and carpets for signs of wear. Rugs can become slippy as they get older so consider having a non-slip underlay fitted. Get any lifted areas of carpet tacked down.
- Clear away any clutter especially in hallways and on stairs. Never store or leave things such as washing on the stairs.
- Surprisingly Pets can become a trip hazard. Always be aware of where they are especially at night. Sometimes a bright collar or collar with a bell can make you more aware of their presence.
- Look at the arrangement of your kitchen cupboards. When we reach up, forward or crouch we are naturally more off balance. Rearrange cupboards so frequently used items or heavier items are within easy reach preferably at waist to chest height.
- Are you struggling to carry plates or cups. Again when carrying we are more unbalanced so thinking about a Denver Trolley or Hostess Trolley might be a prudent move.
- Remember to clear up any spillages as soon as they happen and keep kitchen and bathroom floor dry.
- Use a non-slip mat in the bath and shower. Don’t be too proud to recognise when a shower seat or bath seat maybe a good investment. Grab rails around the bath and shower can also make people feel more safe and confident when bathing.
- Foot wear is also important. A sturdy pair of shoes or slippers with a back and good grip will help. Backless shoes or slippers can become a hazard. Remember to check your footwear regularly for signs of wear. As well as footwear make sure trousers and skirts are not too long and catching
- Beware when carrying items. Don’t try and carry too much at once. Sometimes a couple of trips for laundry or ironing can be easier and less risky than carrying everything at once.
- Keep an eye on pavements in gardens and drives and get any cracked, broken or uneven paving repaired. Keep leaves and moss growth to a minimum as these can become very slippy. Consider getting a rail fitted next to any steps.
- If you have fallen already or are worried put blankets, cushions, water and a mobile phone in easy to get to locations in the home so if you do fall and cannot get back up you can keep warm, hydrated and summon help.
At Physiotherapy Matters we can arrange an appointment to risk assess your home environment, your balance and risk of falls. We can work with you to adapt your environment and a programme of exercises to improve your balance and confidence and keep the risk to a minimum.