Falls Prevention Hints and Tips

As we age, our risk of falling increases due to various factors such as changes in balance, vision impairment, and other health issues. However, the good news is that many falls can be prevented, and there are several steps we can take to reduce our risk. In this post, we’ll explore some simple yet effective tips and advice to help you stay safe and prevent falls.

Trip Hazards

One of the first areas to address in falls prevention is eliminating trip hazards around the home. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Secure Rugs and Mats: Take up loose rugs and mats or secure them with slip-resistant backing to prevent slipping accidents.
  • Reduce Clutter: Keep your living space tidy and organized to minimize the risk of tripping over objects.
  • Secure Cables and Wires: Ensure that cables and wires from electronics are safely secured to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Adequate Lighting: Make sure that hallways, stairways, and outdoor walkways are well-lit to improve visibility and reduce the risk of falls, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Trim Bushes and Shrubs: Keep outdoor paths clear by trimming bushes and shrubs to prevent obstacles in your path.

If you need further advice on making your home safer, don’t hesitate to ask your GP to refer you to an Occupational Therapist.

Bathroom Safety

The bathroom can be a particularly hazardous area due to wet surfaces. Here’s how you can enhance safety:

  • Install Grab Rails: Place grab rails in the shower, bath, or near the toilet to provide extra support when needed.
  • Non-Slip Mats: Use non-slip mats in the shower, bath, and on bathroom floors to prevent slipping accidents.
Around Your Home

There are several additional measures you can take to make your home safer:

  • Place Items at Waist Level: Store everyday items at waist level to avoid reaching or bending over excessively.
  • Night Lights: Install night lights in hallways and landings to improve visibility during nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Handrails: Install handrails in areas where you need extra support, such as staircases and hallways.
  • Repair Flooring: Repair loose carpet and uneven flooring to prevent tripping hazards.

Stairs pose a significant risk for falls. Consider the following precautions:

  • Second Bannister Rail: Install a second bannister rail on stairs for added stability and support.

Maintaining good health is essential for falls prevention:

  • Medication Review: Regularly review your medications with your doctor to ensure they don’t contribute to dizziness or balance issues.
  • Bone Health: Discuss your bone health with your GP, especially if you’re at risk of osteoporosis or fractures.
  • Regular Checkups: Have your eyesight and hearing checked regularly, as impaired senses can increase the risk of falls.
  • Stay Active: Keep up with regular exercise to maintain strength and balance.
Useful Everyday Tips

Here are some additional everyday tips to help prevent falls:

  • Watch Your Step: Be cautious of uneven ground, especially when outdoors.
  • Use Walking Aids: If recommended by your healthcare provider, make sure to use any prescribed walking aids.
  • Proper Footwear: Wear flat shoes with rubber soles for better traction and stability.
  • Wearable Alarms: If you have a wearable alarm, wear it at all times to quickly call for help in case of a fall.
  • Well-Fitting Clothes: Avoid wearing clothing that may trip you up, such as trailing trousers or belts.
  • Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contact numbers near your phone for quick access.
  • Take Your Time: Avoid rushing and take your time when moving around to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

By implementing these simple tips and making your environment safer, you can significantly reduce your risk of falls and maintain your independence as you age.

Nutrition & Hydration Week – Malnutrition in Older Adults

Malnutrition among older adults poses significant health risks and challenges. Recent studies, including one from 2020, revealed that over a third of elderly individuals admitted to hospitals were either malnourished or at risk. It’s crucial to recognise the signs, understand the causes, and take proactive steps to prevent malnutrition, ensuring the health and well-being of our elderly loved ones.

Understanding Malnutrition:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition encompasses deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. This includes both undernutrition and overweight, obesity, and diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Signs of Malnutrition:

Identifying signs of malnutrition is crucial. These include unintentional weight loss, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased appetite or loss of interest in food, cognitive impairment, slow healing from injuries or illnesses, increased susceptibility to infections, changes in mood or behaviour, skin, hair, or dental problems, swelling in the legs, fragile bones, and heightened risk of fractures, as well as mobility issues.

Causes of Malnutrition:

Several factors contribute to malnutrition among the elderly, including limited financial resources for purchasing nutritious foods, chronic illnesses or digestive disorders affecting nutrient absorption, medication side effects suppressing appetite, dental problems, or mobility limitations hindering eating, social isolation leading to decreased food intake, and age-related changes in metabolism and nutrient requirements.

elderly man eating dinner

Preventive Measures:

Preventing malnutrition requires a proactive approach from caregivers. Here are some key preventive measures:

Nutrition-Based Preventive Measures:

  • Meal Planning: Designate and prepare well-balanced meals in advance to promote healthier eating habits.
  • Medication Consideration: Be vigilant of medication side effects that may affect appetite and consult healthcare professionals for adjustments if necessary.
  • Social Engagement: Encourage social interactions during mealtimes to enhance enjoyment and stimulate appetite.
  • Healthy Snacking: Incorporate nutrient-rich snacks into daily routines to provide additional nourishment, especially for those with reduced appetites.

Other Supportive Measures:

  • Regular Monitoring: Keep track of the older adult’s weight, appetite, and overall health regularly to identify any changes or concerns.
  • Encouragement and Support: Provide positive reinforcement and encouragement during meals to motivate older adults to eat and enjoy their food.
  • Variety in Meals: Offer a diverse range of foods to ensure a balanced diet and prevent mealtime boredom.
  • Assistance with Eating: Offer assistance with meal preparation, serving, and feeding if needed, especially for individuals with physical limitations or cognitive impairments.
  • Educational Resources: Seek out educational resources or nutrition programs for caregivers to enhance their knowledge and skills in proper nutrition and meal planning for older adults.
  • Regular Exercise: Encourage regular physical activity to stimulate appetite and promote overall health and well-being.

Seeking Professional Support:

Seeking professional guidance is vital for addressing malnutrition effectively. Healthcare professionals can offer tailored dietary advice, recommend supplements, and provide counselling for underlying mental health issues contributing to malnutrition.

By raising awareness, understanding the signs, and implementing preventive measures, caregivers can significantly contribute to combating malnutrition among the elderly. Prioritising nutrition and overall well-being ensures that our elderly loved ones lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know is experiencing malnutrition-related issues, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from healthcare professionals for appropriate support and intervention.