Woman with weights

Falls Prevention

The more active you are the better your chance of keeping your muscles strong and joints flexible. To avoid falls and injuries from falls, exercise to maintain or improve your balance, strength and flexibility. Our Physiotherapist supervised balance and falls prevention exercise class are a great starting point to improving your physical health. Our physiotherapist can also help design an exercise program that suits you.

Falls prevention class

When looking at falls prevention, we must consider a variety of factors that increase the risk of falling.

Firstly, let’s look at intrinsic factors which are specific to YOU.

Intrinsic factors Management Strategy
Increased age Ensure to stay active to reduce the effects of ageing
History of falls Decrease risk of future falls by acting now
Chronic medical conditions (eg. Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, low blood pressure, incontinence) Appropriate medical management and individualised treatment plan
Multiple medications Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your medications
  • Impaired balance and mobility
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Slow reaction time
  • Get active and improve your physical capacity, reaction time, strength, endurance
  • Research shows that exercise at any age is beneficial
Dizziness Gain the appropriate assessment to determine the cause of dizziness and manage it appropriately

Sensory problems

    • Impaired vision
    • Peripheral neuropathy
Review with the appropriate person for management (optometrist) or speak to your GP for guidance
Impaired cognition Remember to keep yourself mentally active as well as physically active. This may include puzzles, word finders, brain teasers and other activities which will challenge your brain
Fear of falling Improved confidence through a supervised exercise plan

 

Secondly, let’s consider the external factors which are specific to your surroundings

Extrinsic Factors Management Strategy
Inappropriate footwear, for example, loose-fitting shoes (slippers or thongs) Wear shoes that are comfortable and fit well – they should be wide enough in the toe area, have low or no heels, and have slip-resistant soles.
Home environment

    • Loose carpets
    • Clutter
    • Poor lighting
  • Have good lighting, especially between the bed and the bathroom or toilet at night and near any internal steps. Use plug-in night lights and have movement-sensitive lights near stairs and the bathroom. These lights are available from most hardware stores.
  • Remove clutter and make sure walkways and corridors are kept clear and well lit.
  • Repair or replace carpets with worn areas, holes or long threads.
  • Check that mats and rugs are secure and have no tears or wrinkles. Put adhesive strips on all mats and rugs, including those in the bathroom.
  • Make sure that chairs and beds are sturdy and easy to get into and out of, and that tables and benches do not have sharp corners.
  • Wipe up spills immediately.
  • Install grab rails in the bathroom (towel rails are not usually strong enough to use as grab rails). Bathroom tiles can be slippery, especially when wet.
  • Install support rails near steps if there is no handrail.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that is too long or touching the floor, as this can cause you to trip over (for example, your dressing gown).
  • Do not wear socks or loose slippers around the home.
  • Ask an occupational therapist about ways to make your home safer.
Garden, backyard and outdoors
  • Clear away garden tools.
  • Avoid using ladders, or ask someone for assistance if you need to access something at height.
  • Remove mosses, fungi and lichen that make garden paths slippery when wet.
  • Mark the leading edge of outside steps (for example, with white paint) so they are easy to see.
  • Install grab rails next to steps that do not have handrails.
  • Make sure outside steps are well lit.
  • Keep paths well swept.
  • Repair broken, uneven or cracked paths, patios and other walking surfaces.
  • Report cracked footpaths to your local council.
Equipment and walking aids Talk to a physiotherapist about whether you need a walking aid, such as a stick or frame. This can make you more stable and improve confidence when walking. You may only need an aid for a while until you get stronger and feel steadier.

If you fall:

  1. Calm down. Catch your breath and compose yourself after the shock.
    • Check your body. If you are not badly injured you can think about getting up. If you are injured, for example with a broken bone, you need to stay where you are and put your plan to get help into action.
    • If you are not injured, look around for a sturdy piece of furniture (preferably a chair).
  2. Check your body. If you are not badly injured you can think about getting up.
    • If you are injured, for example with a broken bone, you need to stay where you are and put your plan to get help into action.
    • If you are not injured, look around for a sturdy piece of furniture (preferably a chair).
  3. If you are not injured, look around for a sturdy piece of furniture (preferably a chair).
  4. Roll onto your side.
  5. Crawl or drag yourself over to the chair.
  6. From a kneeling position, put your arms up onto the seat of the chair.
  7. Bring one knee forward and put that foot on the floor.
  8. Push up with your arms and legs, pivot your bottom around.
  9. Sit down. Rest before trying to move.

Rest at any time, and if you do not succeed the first time, rest and try again.

Click here to find out more about our Balance and Falls class.