The Independent Living Centre TASMANIA INC
Falls Prevention
There are many factors that can contribute to a person's risk of
having a fall.  One of the most significant factors is the aging process. In fact, after age 65, one in every three people falls at least once each year! Other factors that may cause a person to fall include: lack of exercise (leading to muscle weakness and joint stiffness), unsafe footwear, deterioration of eyesight, poor balance or walking pattern, inappropriate use of medication, some health conditions, risky
behaviour and hazards in the environment.  When several factors are combined, the risk of a fall increases.

The most effective way of reducing the likelihood of falling is to take active steps to prevent falls.

Two thirds of all falls occur at home either inside the house or in the immediate surroundings, so it makes good sense to make the home environment as "fall-proof" as possible.1

General Tips for Preventing Falls in the Home
Floor:
Keep all walkways clear of clutter.
Electrical cords should be kept out of the way as they can be easily tripped over.
Remove all loose mats or attach a slip resistant backing.
Furniture:
Bed and chair raisers can make an existing bed or chair easier to get into and out of.
Armrests provide support and leverage when rising from a chair.
Lighting:
A light next to the bed means you can turn the light on or off from the bed.   This avoids having to navigate from the light switch near the door to the bed in the dark.
Bathroom:
A bath board assists getting into and out of the shower when it is situated over the bath.
Secure grab rails provide assistance when in the shower or when getting up from the toilet and are more secure/safe than taps,
doorknobs and towel rails.
Slip resistant mats or applications on the floor of the bath or shower help avoid slips.
Kitchen:
Place commonly used items at waist height, heavier items in lower cupboards and light items above shoulder height. 
Clean up spills immediately.
Stairs:
A banister or rail on at least one side of all stairs will boost
confidence and improve safety.
Nosing, visual indicators or slip resistant applications on the steps aid in seeing the edge of the step and preventing slips.
Outside:
Ensure walkways are clear of clutter including overgrown plants and weeds.   Cracks in paths or loose pavers can be a trip hazard so, if possible, have these repaired.
Medications:
A Dose-it-box helps to keep track of which medications need to be taken when.
Throw out medications that are past their use by dates. See your doctor if your medications are making you feel drowsy or dizzy.
Clothing:
When outside wear shoes with low heels and good grip and avoid wearing slippers.   When inside, wear fully enclosed slippers, and ensure that nothing is dragging on the floor such as hems of trousers or dressing gowns, or dressing gown cords.
Falls Prevention Checklists and Assessments
For details on preventing falls and making the home environment safer, or for information on services that visit homes to conduct fall risk assessments, please contact:
The Independent Living Centre Tas
Phone:  6334 5899 Or 1300 651 166  Fax:  6334 0045
Address: 46 Canning Street, Launceston
Email:  ilc@ilctas.asn.au  Web:  www.ilctas.asn.au

The Lilydale Progressive--June 2003

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