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How To Prevent Falls In The Elderly

an ambulance going at full speed down a road

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

One of the most common issues faced by the elderly is being vulnerable to trips and falling.  

If a fall happens inside the home, and the person lives alone, it may be a long time before help can be summoned – this delay can add to any potential medical complications, particularly if the fall results in a serious injury.

When focusing on preventing falls and reducing your risk, it’s worth looking at some of the available equipment that can help keep you safe.

The Live In Care Company brings you this blog, providing some helpful guidance and advice. 

Safety Aids In Bathrooms

One of the easiest ways of making a home safer is to install safety rails/grab bars. Although grab rails can be installed anywhere in the home, they are most commonly found in the bathroom.

A young lady holding a grab rail inside a bathroom

The ideal place for a grab bar in a bathroom is by the side of the bath or inside a shower, so you can have something firm, steady and secure to help you safely step in and out of the bath or shower. 

Various Bathroom Grab Rails that are for sale on the Ability Superstore website

Grab rails allow you to safely go about your normal daily activities while reducing your risk when undertaking everyday tasks, such as bathing and showering. Over time, you will find that your confidence will increase by using these key mobility aids as well.

In The Bedroom

Safety in the bedroom can be increased by using bed rails placed alongside the bed to help you get in and out of bed safely and securely.

Close up of a bed rail with two hands grasping it

Bed rails can also help by protecting from falls onto the floor whilst sleeping. Many guards include fold-down mechanisms, so they can be moved out of the way when not in use. They can also be used as a support bar/grab rail during transfers in, or out of bed.

One of the Fall-out Mats that's available for sale on the Ability Superstore website

Alongside the bed, a fall-out mat may be suitable too, just in case someone falls out of bed during the night, as it provides a soft landing.

Walking In The Rain

Various sizes and shapes of some of the ferrules that are available for sale on the Ability Superstore website

Walking in the rain obviously increases the risk of falling over. To reduce your risk, rubber ferrules with a good tread/grip on the bottom of walking sticks and canes are key, as they allow for secure and steady contact point/s with the ground. It’s important to keep an eye on your ferrule/s to make sure they are replaced when the grip starts to fade.

Click here for replacement ferrules that can be purchased on the Ability Superstore website.

If you click on this link, we’ve written a helpful blog and created a video about How To Change a Ferrule On Your Walking Stick.

Walking Frames

A selection of Walking Frames that are available for sale on the Ability Superstore website

For those that need a little more support, walking frames are a common solution.

Although commonly known as Zimmer frames, you may be surprised to learn that Zimmer is just one make of walking frame however, much like a “Hoover”, the word Zimmer has become synonymous with walking frames. We’ve written a blog about the history of the Zimmer frame, which you can find if you click here.

Again, to reduce the risk of falls, the key thing for a walking frame is to make sure you look after the ferrules, which will reduce the chance of slippage.

Rollators

A link to the Let's Fly Rollator 

The next fall-prevention item is the rollator. Typically meant for those who have difficulty walking without support, but can still support themselves. Rollators allow the user to maintain a steady pace when walking.

A link to the Trionic Rollator Walker 14 - Green that's available for sale on the Ability Superstore website

All-terrain rollators are key if you are looking to exercise with longer walks on areas that aren’t as stable as urban pavements.

Rollators are easily foldable, which means greater accessibility when travelling in a car, or taxi. Many rollators also include a basket, which can help independent shopping.

Tips For Stopping Falls

There are steps that can be taken to prevent falls from happening, and this is where a fall prevention plan comes in.

An appointment with a medical professional, such as a doctor or occupational therapist (OT) is a good starting point in order to discuss any previous, or ongoing medical condition and, in particular, issues that could influence physical stability. Balance tests, sight tests and medication reviews are all routes which should be considered.

3 women stretching

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Regular exercises will help to improve balance, combined with regular stretches to improve flexibility. Do make sure you consult with your healthcare professional before undertaking any new or strenuous exercise.

Having a local at-home carer can be a great motivation to help you carry out activities and exercises. However, it can be difficult and arduous at the best of times. It is worth noting that certain exercises might be physically quite tricky for some depending on their mobility, in which case a person that can pop in during the day to help can be a bonus.

Exercise in the elderly isn’t just important for reducing the risk of falling, it’s key to maintaining overall physical health. With adults over 65 spending 10 hours, or more, lying down, this age group has higher obesity and heart disease rates than the rest of the population. 

Installing safety equipment and ensuring that the floor remains clear of clutter and too much furniture will also help to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

Home Hazard Assessments

Additionally, Home Hazard Assessments can be carried out, which can be booked through a GP. Home Hazard Assessments aren’t well known as a service available on the NHS. They consist of a trained healthcare professional checking that the home is as safe as possible and not an environment which could cause a fall.

These health care assessors are experts in fall prevention, which is key, as a non-trained person might not spot the potential danger signs.

Live-in Help

If falls become a serious risk in the day-to-day life of a person, then elderly live-in care may be a consideration, as it’s a simple way to ensure your relative will always have someone there, not only in case of a fall, but as company, too, which in turn can help to combat loneliness.

Preventing Falls In The Future

It’s easy to see why many choose a trained professional to live in their own home, as it provides added flexibility and independence when compared to living in a care home.

Equipping the home with safety aids alongside an at-home carer can provide a fantastic combination of living a happy life in comfortable and familiar surroundings.

The Live In Care Company aims to provide vulnerable people with care, respect and dignity within their own homes. With large sections of the elderly community having spent many years in their own home, moving from that familiar environment can be a frightening scenario. By pairing the best local carers with members of our society who require care, but do not wish to move, many more years can be spent happily and safely in the place they have spent so many years, and have so many memories in.