Keeping safe at home – Falls Prevention Week 2020
A combination of movement and gravity often result in slips, trips and falls and unfortunately, sometimes, injuries too. We know that unexpected falls can exacerbate existing conditions, affect confidence or cause new injuries and that a person is more likely to fall in their own home than anywhere else.
Making your home a safer place
Below is advice on how you can keep your home safe to prevent the risk of falls.
Access to the property and garden
If you have external steps that are broken or uneven they should be repaired. You may also consider installing grab rails or hand-rails and perhaps getting steps painted if you have difficulty seeing the edges.
Steps aside, it’s good to keep paths clear of moss and leaves as these can make paths slippery when wet.
Keep floor surfaces clear
You should have a clear route to walk or wheel yourself around the house. Make sure there are no items obstructing your path that could make you trip including furniture, loose rugs/mats and electrical wires. Keeping the floor coverings the same throughout your house can reduce the risk of you thinking the changes in covering are a step and losing your balance trying to step over this. Non-slip floor surfaces also help to prevent falls.
If you have a walking aid make sure the bottom is not worn and uneven, keep it close so you don’t fall reaching for it and make sure it’s the right height for you. If you need replacements please contact Kirklees Integrated Community Equipment Service (KICES) on 0845 340 4432.
Always wear appropriate footwear when outside to prevent slips and falls.
Stairs should be kept clear of objects. If there is loose or torn carpet, this should be replaced. You may have difficulty climbing stairs so give yourself enough time and if need be use a bag to carry things on your shoulder so you can keep your hands free to hold onto stair rails. If you don’t have stair rails, these can be installed for you.
Consider using a low energy light bulb to light routes around the house (particularly at night) if you have areas where lights are not bright enough for you to see clearly. Lights may be operated remotely or through virtual assistants, such as an Alexa to save you having to stand up to switch them on.
A reflective glare from TV or computer screens can be a distraction for some people and cause you to lose your balance. Position these items so that glare is reduced.
Transfers from furniture
If you have low blood pressure you may feel dizzy when standing up from sitting or lying down. Stamp your feet whilst seated, then stand up slowly and wait for a few seconds before starting to walk.
Castors under furniture may cause it to move as you are pushing up to standing. Arrange for these to be removed or blocked in to prevent this happening. You can use a chair with arm rests to help you to push up to standing. Shuffling your bottom towards the edge of the seat may help with this. But do not go too far forward so that you fall off the seat!
Is your bathroom floor, bath or shower slippery? Make sure that all water spills are mopped up as soon as possible and consider installing a fitted carpet or carpet tiles on the bathroom floor instead of lino or laminate.
Re-arrange items in your cupboards or fridge so that the ones you use most often are within easy reach. If taking items out of a washer or dryer consider having a seat positioned next to it so that you can sit down when doing so, or ensure that there is somewhere that you can securely hold onto for support if the seat is not possible.
If you have frequent falls consider a pendant alarm so that you are able to summon assistance in an emergency. This should always be worn, even in the bath or shower.
Alternatively, ensure that a mobile phone is kept charged and close to you. Keep emergency contact numbers near to a landline and stored in your mobile phone contacts.
Need further advice?
If you would like further advice and support about home solutions to reduce the risk of falls, please contact Gateway to Care on 01484 414933.