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Getting the Balance Right

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Slipping on a wet floor. Tripping on an uneven path. Getting your foot caught in a loose rug and falling to the ground.

Unfortunately, as we get older the chance of a fall resulting in injury increases. People over the age of 65 have a higher risk of falls with statistics showing that one in three people in this age group will have a fall each year. Three-quarters of all injury hospitalisations in Australia for people aged 65+ are the result of a fall. The fear of falling can be just as damaging, significantly affecting a person’s confidence and ability to exercise and socialise.

The good news is that research shows many falls can be prevented and the risk of injury reduced.

Catholic Healthcare’s Allied Health Specialist and Occupational Therapist, Erin Stubbs, outlines some simple changes you can make at home to reduce the risk of falls.

Participate in exercises to promote strength and balance

  • regular participation in exercises reduces the risk of falls by 25-30%
  • think of movement as an opportunity, be active in as many ways as you can (for at least 30 minutes a day) while focusing on exercises to improve the strength and balance muscles in the body
  • exercises that target strengthening of specific leg and hip muscles are recommended – at least 3 times per week – for example lower limb strengthening, Tai Chi, the Otago Exercise Program and dancing. Visit the Stay on Your Feet website for more information on falls prevention and the Otago Exercise Program – www.stayonyourfeet.com.au

Reduce environmental hazards

  • if you have mats and rugs, use adhesive tape to securely attach them to the floor
  • ensure bed linen is tucked in under the mattress and doesn’t drag on the floor
  • place all regularly used kitchen items in cupboards within easy reach
  • ensure all electrical cords or hoses are off the floor or neatly stowed away from areas people walk through
  • have ‘anti slip’ solutions/paints placed on slippery surfaces

 

Reduce personal hazards by changing your behaviour 

  • instead of placing your slippers next to your bed of a night, place your slippers underneath your bed or beside your bedside table
  • carry a cordless phone around the house
  • use a clothes airer to hang smaller washing items such as underwear
  • prepare ingredients for dinner throughout the day so you don’t need to do it all at once

 Fear of falling

  • A previous fall, feeling unsteady on your feet, or forming a belief that you are unable to do routine activities can all contribute to a fear of falling
  • To help manage your fear, it’s important to stay active and focus on exercises which improve your strength and balance
  • Speak to your GP or Care Advisor about completing a falls prevention program to arm you with the ability to perform daily activities safely, reduce your concerns and increase your confidence in performing physical and social activities

Catholic Healthcare falls prevention initiatives include the Stepping On Falls Prevention Program, Walking With Confidence program, Lifestyle-integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program, and individual physiotherapy and exercise physiology consultations in your home.

If you are interested in falls prevention instruction or feel that you need a bit of guidance, speak to your Care Advisor about joining the Walking with Confidence program through your Home Care Package. Or call 1800 225 474 to speak to our Customer Care Team.