The risk of an accidental slip, trip or fall increases as we get older. Most of us don’t live our lives with the specific thought of accidental falls in mind, especially since for the majority of our time this simply isn't a concern.
However, if you’re getting older, or have a loved one who is older, then here are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to preventing falls and, ultimately, fall-proofing your life.
What could cause a fall?
There are usually multiple conditions resulting in an accidental fall, slip or trip. Like most things, it's an accumulation of small things that can ultimately lead to an accident.
Some of the main contributing factors are:
- Poor footwear or foot problems
- Poor or obscured vision, either due to poor lighting, short- or long-sightedness, or glaucoma and cataracts
- Health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, weak bladder control, dementia, depressions, arthritis, stroke or even Parkinson’s disease
- Side effects of alcohol or narcotics that can lead to dizziness and/or confusion
- Poor physical conditioning or simple aging that can include weak muscles, poor balance and slower reflexes
What can you do to prevent a fall?
- Keep physically fit
One of the main ways you can avoid an accidental fall is to keep on top of your physical health. This means ensuring that you get some form of regular exercise that helps you remain mobile and strong.
Keeping fit can also help stave off the onset of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and stroke.
- Check your medication
If you’re someone who’s on chronic medication, always ensure that you’re aware of the side effects and how you personally react to your medication.
If you know that you’re at risk of experiencing the side effects, or that alcohol consumption in conjunction with your medication might cause an issue, consult your doctor immediately. Where possible, avoid all alcohol and narcotics.
- Get checked
Prevention is always better than cure. To ensure that you aren’t caught out in an accident, visit your GP regularly for a physical exam. Make sure they check your bone density, feet and overall mobility.
Go for regular eye checks at the optometrist, especially if you already suffer from poor vision. Keeping your prescription up to date can massively reduce your chance of falling due to poor eyesight.
- Shoes, who knew?
One of the leading causes of accidental falls is our footwear and, to a lesser degree, our clothing. It’s always a good idea, as you get older, to visit a podiatrist to have your feet professionally examined.
Your doctor will be able to help ensure that your footwear is chosen not only for comfort and style, but safety as well. Also, be aware of wearing loose, baggy, oversized clothing. Anything that can get caught or stepped on.
- Let there be light
Sounds so obvious but so few of us have really good lighting in our homes. Now, you don’t need to go rewire your entire house. Rather, concentrate on the areas that might potentially result in a trip or fall.
Specifically focus on areas with stairs or uneven flooring, a change in types of flooring, carpeting or areas where there might be furniture that could trip you up.
- Get handy
As you get older, it might become necessary to look at installing specific handrails or grab bars in specific areas. These handrails could be the difference between falling and almost falling.
Target bathrooms and areas with stairs first, then look at your bedroom and other areas where you might be sitting or lying down. That initial rush of blood to the head when you stand up, otherwise known as postural hypotension, means that you’re at greater risk of falling or dizziness after sitting or lying down.
Remember, if you’re a GetSavvi Health member, you’ve got access to your insurance plan benefits which includes a 24-hour Health Advisor benefit if you ever need to speak to an accredited nurse. If you’re looking for health cover, simply click here to get an obligation-free quote now.