Home is where the hazard is for those prone to falling over

More older Australians living at home means more are likely to have a nasty fall.

older woman falls in bathroom

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) most recent statistics show that more than 60 per cent of people aged 65 and over who were hospitalised after falling were injured in their own home.

According to the AIHW, in 2013-2014, some 52,600 independent-living, older Australians were admitted for treatment after a tumble compared with 21,600 who lived in an aged-care facility. Another 28,000 were away from their homes when they fell and two-thirds of the total were women.

The sum of falls for this age group was three and a half times greater than for those aged 45 to 64.

As government policy incentivises more older Australians to stay at home and out of nursing facilities, the number of falls they are expected to have will increase.

Depending on your age and health, it could take up to a year to fully recover from a broken hip. And apart from reduced mobility and having to seek help for your day to day chores, the pain that goes with healing is a good enough reason to avoid a nasty fall.

To reduce the risk, walk around your home and do a stocktake of the likely hazards over which you could trip. They will include clutter on the floor, especially around doors, stairs without handrails, loose rugs and slippery bathroom surfaces.

Then consider these seven, simple and cheap modifications to make your home safer to navigate:

  • remove clutter and unnecessary furniture so that you have plenty of room to move around
  • improve lighting in all rooms
  • install handrails in the bathroom, toilet and anywhere else where you have to step up, down, in or out
  • have regularly used items within easy reach
  • put non-slip strips on steps and the floor of areas that get wet easily
  • make sure your shoes or slippers are not too loose
  • and keep torches, candles and matches in several places around the home so that if there is a blackout, they are easy to find.

Medical conditions that can also increase the likelihood of a fall include osteoporosis, low blood pressure, poor eyesight, muscle weakness, vertigo and foot afflictions. Even some medications can cause symptoms that make you lose your balance.

Next time you visit your doctor, ask them if you are of a higher risk of falling because of your medical conditions or the pharmaceuticals you take.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Jul 2017
    You forgot to mention exercise which strengthens glutes and other muscle groups related to balance and mobility.
    28th Jul 2017
    Exercise is important to strengthen muscles and mobility.
    28th Jul 2017
    Approach your local council.....they may offer subsidised gym membership! Mine did.....$13.95 per week....go anytime, any number of times....latest Nautilous machines, caring impute by trainers....$5 per week when on holiday, NO ' lock in' contract!!
    28th Jul 2017
    Nice council! Is that just for pensioners? We can't even smile at the lady behind the desk for that sort of money.
    28th Jul 2017
    I think you need the stats to go with the advice.
    For example - my dog is forever underfoot and you haven't mentioned pets.
    As I was on a step ladder yesterday making a precarious re installation of the man hole that had annoying fingerprints on it - I thought this is a bit ridiculous and I really should have more sense.
    - and the most common reason given for oldies leaving their home with steep driveways is the difficultly in putting the bins in and out. These days we have 3 to put out on garbage night!
    My mother broke her wrist picking lemons from her garden tree - the best fruit is always just out of reach.
    PS Don't give oldies candles and matches!
    normie 39
    29th Jul 2017
    I am a 78 year old male who lives in a relocatable home village on the Central Coast of NSW on my own. I had heard from our village manager that an owner in her seventies who had for years been paying her rent
    on a weekly basis had not been seen for sometime and those who knocked on her door had no response.
    Unfortunately she had a fall in her bathtub and was found deceased three weeks later when the management (who have keys to all houses)
    dropped in and found her deceased after a fall in her bathtub.

    Since hearing this I alway take my walkabout landline phone and mobile
    phone when ever I shower or take a bath as it's better than nothing as I can always hit the redial to the Park Manager who would be my first choice of assisting me if I was mobile or could not move due to any serious injury as accidents can happen in any room in the house but a bathroom can be deadly.
    Normie 39

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