Almost one in three older Australians fall down every year.  While many escape the experience relatively unscathed, others require hospitalisation and suffer serious, long-lasting injuries.

As a result, fall prevention is of utmost importance for older Australians. In this post, we discuss why falls occur so frequently as we age, what makes them dangerous, and how they can be prevented.

Why are falls more common as you age?

Embarrassment can be common after a fall, but no one should feel this way. Falls in the elderly are a prevalent problem in our ageing population—older adults are 12 times more likely to suffer a fall than a vehicle accident.

The natural ageing process makes you more susceptible for various reasons:

  • Weakened muscles and stiff joints make walking laborious
  • Reduced coordination leaves you unsteady on your feet
  • Slow reaction times make it harder to correct a misstep
  • Poor eyesight makes it difficult to see tripping hazards

Age-related health conditions can further exacerbate the risk:

  • Incontinence may force you to rush to the bathroom
  • Low blood pressure (i.e., from diabetes or postural hypotension) can leave you feeling dizzy
  • Arthritis, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease can affect your mobility and reaction time
  • Dementia can make you less aware of your surroundings

Why are falls so dangerous?

As we age, our bodies become more fragile and injury-prone. A fall that wouldn’t bother a youngster could do severe damage to an older adult.

Common fall-related injuries among older Australians include:

  • Hip and wrist fractures
  • Bruises/contusions
  • Head injuries
  • Sprains
  • Shoulder dislocations

Falls can even cause fatalities. Nearly 5,000 people die from falls in Australia each year, 95% of whom are 65 years and over.

Although 80% of falls among older Australians don’t require hospitalisation, even a minor slip can shatter your confidence. The fear of future falls may scare you off physical activities, reducing your quality of life and further increasing your risk.

What can you do to prevent falls?

The good news is you can avoid most falls with prudent preventative measures. Through technology, awareness, and a healthy lifestyle, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling.

Follow these tips to lower the likelihood of a fall:

  • Exercise regularly to maintain balance, strength, and flexibility (seek advice from a physio if need be)
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water
  • Get your eyes tested frequently and purchase new glasses as required
  • Wear comfortable shoes with a firm grip on the soles (your podiatrist can help)
  • Avoid long clothing like dressing gowns and slippery footwear like socks
  • Use alarms and wearable tech for added peace of mind
  • Have your GP periodically review your medication to avoid dizzy spells

There are also several ways you can help fall-proof your home:

  • Install bright lighting, especially in high-risk areas
  • Remove excess clutter and keep your hallways clear
  • Place non-slip mats in wet areas like the kitchen and bathroom
  • Fasten rugs in place with adhesive strips
  • Install support rails on your stairwells and bathrooms
  • Mop up spills and sweep away leaves
  • Repair cracked or uneven surfaces
  • Mark your steps with white paint or adhesive tape to enhance visibility

You can use your Home Care Package to help prevent falls

The vast range of services available through a Home Care Package can help you to stay strong and mobile, and greatly reduce your fall risk. Speak with a CareAbout Adviser to learn more about how your Home Care Package can help you to prevent a fall.

If you’d like to learn more about fall prevention, we recommend visiting the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare website. Should the risk of living at home alone become too great, our expert customer service team can recommend suitable Aged Care, Home Care or NDIS providers.