Falls are unfortunately a part of everyday life, particularly among the ageing population. But with the World Health Organisation estimating that a staggering 37.3 million falls require medical attention each year, preventing falls in older adults must be prioritised.
In Ireland alone, “Falls are the most commonly reported incident within the HSE and HSE-funded services with 34,114 falls being reported in 2021 including 18,023 in acute hospitals and 15,958 in community services.”, according to the HSE.
So with older age groups more at risk of a fall – and more susceptible to serious injury – than any other cohort, it’s vital to ensure the correct measures are put in place to keep the most vulnerable out of harm’s way. In this article, we share our top tips to help you do just that.
Tips for preventing falls in older adults
Get regular exercise
They say that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” and this rings very true when it comes to maintaining physical strength and muscle mass. It is a particularly important sentiment in the context of older adults, who may lose agility if they succumb to a sedentary lifestyle.
Ensuring that exercise becomes a regular part of your daily routine will increase flexibility and decrease your chances of experiencing a dangerous fall. Walking is a wonderful option to boost both mental and physical health, while activities such as tai chi and Pilates will improve balance as well as overall strength.
Get regular eye and hearing tests
It stands to reason that compromised sight and hearing can lead to a higher risk of falls, both in and out of the home. With the deterioration of hearing and eyesight a common issue in individuals over the age of 65, getting regular eye and hearing tests should be a top priority to combat falls and injuries.
Review your medication
Certain medicines, such as those prescribed for blood pressure, should be frequently reviewed by your GP to assess whether or not the dosage needs to be changed. Taking unnecessarily high or low doses, or using a conflicting combination of medications, can cause dizziness and other side effects that may result in a fall.
Assess the home for hazards
Re-evaluating home safety is a crucial step in preventing falls among the older population. There are multiple ways to create a less hazardous environment by fitting items such as bed bumpers, handrails, grab bars and fall mats in bathrooms and throughout the house.
Installing adequate lighting in all areas of the house is also vital, as is keeping walkways clear of any trip hazards and ensuring carpets and tiles are fully secured to the floors.
Take extra care when out and about
Extra care is needed when braving the outdoors, especially during periods of ice or heavy rain. Avoid baggy clothing and make sure footwear fits correctly and is securely fastened, with adequate grip on the soles. Take similar precautions with any assistance device you may use, ensuring walking aids are the correct height, that wheels are smooth and ferrules are in good condition.
Preventing falls in older adults is made easier with the help of O Neill Healthcare
Nobody wants to compromise when it comes to the care of our older family members. This is why occupational therapists and physiotherapists all over Ireland choose to work with O Neill Healthcare when helping older adults perform activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and eating. It is also why we’ve been able to assist concerned family members to take care of their elderly loved ones since 1999.
Our main goal is to enhance the quality of life of our clients and their families, prioritising their safety and comfort with the help of our high-quality products and services. With an experienced, ethical and specially-trained team on standby combined with a wide range of fall management products, you can rest assured that you are in safe hands with O Neill Healthcare.
Get in touch today to find out how we can make life easier for your beloved older family members.