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The Risks of Falling

VIP Access does a lot of work with both disabled people and the elderly in providing home renovations and modifications to assist these people in their day to day lives.  I thought an article on falls might be interesting. 

A few interesting facts

What some people might not know is that men are more likely than women to die from the result of a fall.  The fatality rate is actually 49% higher for men than women who experience a fall.  However, women on the other hand are more likely to have a non-fatal injury from their fall, such as a broken bone.  What this means is that they stay longer in the hospital. 

Who is most prone to a fall

People who have poor vision are at high risk, particularly those with cataracts, glaucoma as well as old prescription lenses which are not current and are out of date.  The elderly too are very prone as their reaction time is much slower.  A younger person might be able to put a foot right quickly, stumble, but regain balance or perhaps to put out a hand or grab something to stop the fall. 

Situations which can cause a fall

  • As mentioned above, the elderly are prone to falls, some fatal. 
  • Serious health conditions can cause a loss of balance, brief loss of consciousness, or fainting or dizziness.  All this can cause a fall to occur. 
  • Changes to our body, such as age, visual impairment, muscle weakness, stiffer joints, loss of feeling in the feet and legs, slower reaction time or difficulty concentrating can all lead to situations where a fall can occur.
  • Some medicines will cause a side effect of dizziness, feeling of light headedness, unsteadiness, blurred vision, drowsiness, double vision, difficulty thinking.  When you are on multiple medications, this can especially be more prevalent and increase your chances of a fall.
  • Maintenance work (especially for older men) is another major cause of falls.
  • Alcohol is another culprit, especially mixed with medication.  As we get older, our bodies process alcohol less effectively and if you couple medication with that effect, the results can be downright dangerous. 

How to avoid a fall

  • Stay fit and active.  Talk to your doctor about a safe exercise program and stick to it.  Regular exercise helps with muscle tone, keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible.  To stop slow bone loss from osteoporosis, try mild weight gearing exercises such as walking or climbing stairs. 
  • Always ask your doctor about the side effects of your medication.  If you experience something they didn’t mention, then tell them.  Don’t suffer in silence as sometimes there are alternatives which might be more compatible with you. 
  • Wear non-skid or rubber-soled flat shoes.  Ensure your shoes fully support your feet.  Avoid walking around in slippers, socks or smooth-soled shoes, especially on stairs. 
  • When you stand up quickly it can cause your blood pressure to drop making you feel dizzy and wobbly.  For this reason, get into the habit of standing slowly. 
  • Have your eyes tested regularly.  If you need new glasses, get them and stop using the old ones.  You may feel you’re saving a few dollars, but what is the ‘cost’ of money, happiness and wellness if you are in the hospital for several months (or worse, become a fatality)? 
  • Also have your hearing tested as small changes can affect your balance.  If you have a hearing aid, ensure it’s well fitted and wear it. 
  • Get good sleep and rest.  When you are tired, you don’t tend to lift your foot properly and can literally ‘fall over your own feet’. 
  • Clear pathways and de-clutter.  If you’re heading towards being a little unsteady on your feet, then don’t make your life more difficult (or risky) by living in a cluttered environment.  Piles of books on the floor in your bedroom, too much furniture, objects left on the floor (especially if you have a darker carpet or flooring) all need to be cleared away or put up on tables.  Get into the habit of putting things away, not leaving things on the floor. 
  • Ensure the path to your bathroom/toilet is absolutely clear.  At night, especially with less lighting, or you haven’t put on your glasses, can be particularly dangerous. 
  • Rugs are another culprit of causing a fall.  Your toe can catch on the rug.  Instead consider either carpet if you want the warmth. 
  • Tiles and floor finishes should be non-slip.  Some tiles are better than others, so really consider whether beauty or safety is more important when making selections. 
  • Keep floors dry; if you spill something then wipe it up straight away. 
  • Consider the colour of a pet when buying.  A whole black animal will be hard to spot in poor light, whereas a lighter colour or multiple coloured animal is easy to see.  Train your best friend (especially if they are a small dog or cat) to not hang around in the kitchen where you are focused on the benchtops, not the floor and avoid falling over your fur baby. 
  • Avoid furniture polishes which are sprayed.  If the overspray ends up on the floors, then you’re making your floor extremely slippery.  Ideally, switch to a liquid polish which is wiped onto the timber rather than sprayed. 
  • If you need a cane or walker, use it.  These devices are there to help you and if they keep you more active and mobile and stable, then they are something to embrace. 
  • Install modifications to your home to keep you safe.  These might be hand rails in your shower, a ramp up to your front door.  At VIP Access, we can help with all those types of things, from a major renovation of your home, to those little bits and pieces that keep you safe. 
  • Keep your home well-maintained.  A piece of carpet culling up, or a broken floor tile, or loose stair can become exceedingly dangerous.  If you have any uneven surfaces (perhaps where one floor surface finishes and another starts and there is a lip), you may want to have that rectified so that the unevenness is removed.     
  • Do you have good lighting both inside and outside?  You may consider a sensor light for your front door, plus also for your bathroom for any night visits. 
  • Remember also your outside area; are your paths clear of items (ornaments or pot plants or plants overhanging) which can cause a trip?  Are paths free of leaves (which when wet can be extremely slippery)?  Are taps turning off fully so that there is no dripping, pooling of water or permanent wetness that encourages moss or slime to grow? 

We hope you have found these tips useful and helpful.  At VIP Access, we help people who are disabled or elderly with their home renovations and modifications to enable them to live whole and comfortable lives at home with their different abilities.  Every person is different and so every renovation or adaptation we do is often different.  We also have a great product called the CarePort which is a temporary toilet and shower combo cubicle which can be hired from us for a month or a year (and almost any option in between).   We are also a NDIS provider, so can provide you solutions through your NDIS funding as well.  If you need a quote for some work, simply give us a call on 07 3807 4309 or email [email protected]

Contact VIP Access today for a friendly discussion on how we can be of assistance.