Staying on your feet: Five quick tips for preventing falls as you grow older

Regular exercise helps to lower your risk of having a fall as you grow older

Staying on your feet: Five quick tips for preventing falls as you grow older

Hands up if you’ve had a fall and injured yourself at some point in your life? If you’ve raised your hand, you’re like most of us!

That’s right, we all know how easy it is to trip or lose your balance and fall, whether it’s at home, out in nature or at the shops, to name a few places. However, our chance of having a fall increases as we grow older, and we’re more likely to injure ourselves as a result. This may be due to things like vision or balance problems, stiff joints, a decrease in muscle strength, the effects of long term health issues or even simple hazards at home, making it harder for us to stay on our feet.

The great news is that there are a number of ways that you can prevent falls as you grow older. We’ve put together five quick tips for you below.

Get moving

Getting out and about and exercising regularly can go a long way towards improving your muscle strength and preventing your joints from stiffening. Having strong muscles and flexible joints will help you to move more easily, which in turn may prevent you from having a fall.

Whether it’s going for a walk outside, doing some Tai Chi, playing tennis or swimming a few laps at your local pool, doing regular exercise will not only help lower your risk of having a fall, but it will improve your overall health and well-being too. It’s a definite win-win!

If you’re looking for some guidance with progressive resistance training and specific gym exercises which will target your muscle strength and improve balance, the team at the Uniting Seniors Gyms can help. We offer personalised exercise and movement programs in a safe and comfortable environment that can help you stay active and strong, with locations across New South Wales.

“As we grow older we lose muscle strength and our sense of balance, and this can lead to a fall”, said Nathan Hall, Uniting Seniors Gyms Service Manager. “The more active we remain, the better the chance of keeping our muscles strong, our joints mobile and maintaining our sense of balance. Research suggests that regular targeted strength and balance training can reduce the risk of falls by up to 30%.”

You can get in touch to find out more about the Uniting Seniors Gyms by calling 1800 486 484 or emailing ask@uniting.org

Add some spark to your diet with plenty of water and fresh, healthy foods

It’s important to look after your overall health by drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Water is best, particularly when the warmer weather starts to hit in spring and summer. You can also look after your overall health by eating plenty of fresh, healthy foods, including colourful fruit and vegies and nutritious whole grains. If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it, including calcium rich foods in your diet is important, so talk to your doctor or nutritionist to find out what the best options are for you.

Create a safe home and garden

We’re all guilty of putting off general home maintenance tasks, but there’s never been a better time to do them, as having a safe home and garden will help lower your likelihood of having a fall. By removing as many hazards as possible you’ll be taking away things that may cause you to fall, such as loose floor rugs, slippery leaves on pathways and electrical cords or garden hoses that haven’t been secured. You could also look at making sure that any steps inside or outside your home are even and have their edges marked. We also recommend installing some grab rails near steps or in the shower and toilet, so that you have something to hold onto if you’re feeling unsteady. Another great tip is to make sure that the lighting around your home and garden is plentiful, so you can easily make your way around when night falls.

If you’re looking for a bit of help with creating a safe home and garden environment, the team from the Uniting Home Maintenance and Modification Service may be able to help, depending on your situation.

“We understand that having a safe, accessible home is a key factor in preventing falls as we grow older, so we can assist with installing grab rails, handrails, ramps or step wedges in seniors’ homes,” said Errin Doyle, Acting Uniting Home Maintenance and Modification Service Manager. “We can also fix damaged stairs or cracked paths, and repair floors to improve the safety of your home.”

If you would like to find out more about the Uniting Home Maintenance and Modification Service, you can get in touch by calling 1800 486 484 or emailing ask@uniting.org

Wear practical footwear and clothing

It may sound obvious, but wearing shoes or slippers which have good grip on the soles, a wide heel and are flat, can help to prevent falls. It’s also important that they fit well, as loose shoes or slippers can slip off your feet and cause you to trip.

Another great tip is to make sure that any loose or long hems on your trousers or skirt are mended or taken up as soon as possible, as a hem which touches the floor could cause you to fall.

Talk to your doctor and other health professionals

As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have, particularly if you have blood pressure issues or other health conditions which are linked to an increased risk of falls, such as Parkinson’s disease or arthritis. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have and provide other health related tips for reducing your chance of having a fall.

We also encourage you to see your optometrist for a check-up to make sure your eyes are healthy and your vision is in good shape. If you wear glasses, your optometrist can also check to see that your prescription is up-to-date.

Finally, if you have had some trouble with your feet and experienced any pain or feelings of pins and needles which you think may be affecting your balance, a podiatrist will be able to offer some guidance.

We hope you found these tips helpful. Stay healthy and happy!

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