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Avoid falls, stay active

As we age, falls prevention is a key part of health. We outline how to make sure that you stay healthy and active as you age.

We don’t have to be using a walking aid or be frail to be in danger of a fall. Falls are just part and parcel of getting old as our balance and our muscles are simply not what they used to be. Also, the older we get, the more likely we are to suffer a more serious injury if we should fall.

And falls are a predictor of more falls, so if you have taken a tumble in the past six months you are more likely to fall again.

But it’s not all bad news: most falls are preventable and injuries can be minimised with some simple changes to the way we get around.


Be proactive and stay healthy

There’s a temptation to put falls down to just being clumsy or a normal part of getting old, but if you’re prone to falls you have to see your doctor. It could be something as simple as low blood pressure, but you need to know.

Staying healthy is a key part of staying on your feet, so in addition to getting your health check, you need to:


–      Make sure you eat a balanced diet because good nutrition is a factor in feeling dizzy or light-headed.

–      Keep as active as you can. It can be tempting to wind back after a fall but you must keep moving as you get older. The more you move, the more steady you are going to become – but make sure you do it safely (e.g., tai chi and water-based sports).

–      Stay on top of any medical conditions. Know how your conditions are progressing so you can note any changes with your doctor.

–      Watch your medicines. Some medication can also increase your risk of falls. Ask your doctor before taking any new medication.

–      Wear safe shoes. If you have issues with your feet, see a podiatrist and don’t just resort to poorly fitting shoes or sandals as they can increase your risk of tripping.


Fall-proofing your home

Your home should be a safe place so, as we get older, it is good to take stock of your surroundings and see how they can be improved to keep you safe. Around 60 per cent of all falls happen in the home, so doing a hazard check means you are significantly reducing your risk.

And it’s simple stuff that we’re all guilty of – young and old alike. Things like climbing up to do tasks around the home, using a chair to reach things instead of a ladder, or not being bothered to turn a light on at night (it’s your home, right? You know where everything is!).

Simple things like leaving a light on at night, using non-slip wet mats in the shower, or tucking away electrical cords may sound small, but they can be the difference between a safe home and a fall.

For more information on falls prevention, visit the Department of Health website.