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  • Writer's pictureLuxe Care

Falls: How To Prevent Them and What To Do When They Happen

The following is a guide to preventing the injury, pain, anxiety and recovery time of a fall.



What is a fall?

Slips, trips, falls – all are bad news for elderly people. For an elderly person, a fall is a risk to their health, mobility, and independence. Falling can trigger fears and anxiety, putting strain on seniors their caregivers or loved ones. Permanent injury can occur from falls, even after recovery.


A top priority for elders is taking whatever actions possible to minimise falls risk.


Reducing Household Risks:

The first step toward greatly reducing fall risks is to survey your/your loved one’s house and remove any obstacles in common walking paths. Less obvious obstacles can be discovered by asking your loved one to walk through their house as they typically would and observe anything that causes difficulties. Pot plants, rugs, coffee tables (and sharp corners), bedside tables and poorly placed electrical cords are some less common objects that can cause falls.


Navigating your home shouldn’t be like navigating an obstacle course, so ensure you or your loved ones do not leave unnecessary mess lying around on floors. Laundry, newspapers or books, electronics and shoes are common items people leave unattended in the walk paths of those within the home. Pick up after yourself and ensure others do, to give seniors the space they need to navigate safely. Many seniors stop navigating turning corners as fluidly as they used to so they will need more space when turning around or taking a corner.


  • Consider objects that may get in the way of a walking frame or cane.

  • Move senior's most commonly used objects to lower shelves or benches.

  • Ensure stairways have easily accessible handrails. Observe your loved ones navigating stairs to see which hand they use to steady themselves. Handrails may also need to be installed in bathrooms.

  • Command hooks can be installed to hang towels closer to showers.

  • Overexcited children or dogs can accidentally trip elderly people over. Ensure dogs are placed outside and walked regularly, and treats are used to reward calm behaviour. Instruct children to be careful around elderly people and how to alert an adult if they see an elderly person fall. 

  • Use non-slip mats in kitchens, laundries, and bathrooms. Consider shower chairs and bath boards. Slipping without falling can still cause injuries such as muscle strains or tears.

  • Ensure your/your loved one’s house is appropriately lit inside and outside. Use stick-on lights in places where overhead lighting doesn’t reach. Consider voice activated lights for elderly people comfortable with the technology, or motion activated lights.

  • Overly soft mattresses and couches can sometimes be difficult for elderly people to gain enough momentum or grip to lift themselves up properly/safely.

  • Ensure gardens are kept neat and plants are not obscuring any walkways.

  • Ensure elders are shown any changes or moved objects within the house.


Shoes and Socks and Other Pieces:

  • Consider the shoes your loved ones wear around their house. Some shoes may grip too hard while others may be too slippery. Consider purchasing grip socks, but ensure these do not catch on floors in the home. 

  • Clean glasses regularly and ensure peripheral vision is not entirely obscured by glasses frame.

  • Ensure pants or dressing gowns do not drag past feet.


Alerting:

  • If your loved one is susceptible to falls, consider investing in a necklace alarm they can push if they fall. This alarm will automatically alert you or any designated person to come to their aid.

  • If your loved one owns a mobile phone, ensure they keep it within their reach – including in the bathroom - so they can grab it or move slowly to it if they fall.

  • If your loved one can use Siri or Google Home, show them how to instruct it to make a call. Write down a short sentence they can remember easily like “Hey Siri, call 000” or “Hey Google, call [your name]”. An instruction guide for Siri is available here.

  • If you cannot visit your loved one regularly, ask a neighbour to check in on them once a day. Luxe Care provides companion carers who will check in on your loved ones.

  • If your loved one is not good with texting, teach them an easy code to remember like “the letter ‘h’ means help”.

  • Most mobile phones now do not need to be unlocked to call 000. Simply pressing the 0 button three times will automatically dial the number (the call button still needs to be pushed).

  • Rehearse unlocking a mobile phone/calling Siri/calling an ambulance with your loved one in case of emergency so they have a better chance of navigating through any panic, pain or shock.

  • Many elders do not want to “cause a fuss” or be “fussed over”. Assure elders that they are not bothering anyone by calling and not to worry about interrupting or scaring you. Let your workplace know if you have elderly relatives you may need to attend to on short notice. If you are likely to be busy during work hours, let your loved one know who else they can call.

  • Keep helpful phone number lists in easy to see parts of the house in easy-to-read large fonts.

  • When leaving an elderly person’s house, if they come outside to say goodbye ensure they are safely back inside before driving away.


Health:

  • Staying as active as possible will ensure you or your loved ones maintain healthy bones and a healthy body. You will generally recover quicker and easier from injuries.

  • Making sure you have enough calciumVitamin D and iron in your diet will reinforce a healthy body.

  • Promoting regular movement will prevent fears from becoming restrictive and will allow your loved one to remain comfortable navigating their space alone.

  • Ensure that if a loved one has fallen, someone with appropriate body strength and lifting training or awareness is the one to lift them up from the ground. The following videos from Local Guardians contain some safe techniques for navigating falls:



Please note: If you are not trained on safe lifting, do not lift someone who cannot support their own weight as you may injure yourself in the process or potentially worsen their existing injuries.


Do not move someone who may have a spinal injury, call 000 immediately.

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