What increases the risk of a fall?
Factors that may lead to an increased risk of a fall, especially for older women, include:
- poor vision
- a decreased sense of joint position
- poor balance
- poor physical strength
- increased frailty
Actions to minimise the risk of a fall
Frequent falls may lead you to lose confidence in your ability to move and this can affect your sense of independence. It is worth taking action to minimise the risk of a fall. These actions include:
|Lighting||Ensure you have enough lights in and around your home to make navigation in darker areas and at night easier.|
|Furniture||Move small items of furniture to keep the number of things you might fall over to a minimum.|
|Rugs||Limit the number of rugs in your home if they create an uneven floor surface.|
|Stairs||Choose accommodation with a minimum of stairs.|
|Rails and/or mats||Install rails and/or non-slip mats near stairs and slippery surfaces such as the bathroom floor.|
|Shoes||Choose shoes that give you enough support and traction.|
|Medication||Check whether your medications can affect balance because your doctor may be able to find an alternative.|
|Vision||Check your vision regularly to ensure your vision is correct or corrected.|
|Medical check-up||Have a regular check-up so your doctor can assess your bone strength and how you are walking.|
|Balance and muscle strengthening exercises||
Get advice from a physiotherapist or join a class at a local community health centre because:
have been shown to reduce the incidence of falls
|Walking aide||If your doctor recommends a walking aide, use it as a preventative measure so you avoid falls.|
If you are falling because you are fainting as a result of a disorder of your heart rhythm you may need to be assessed and treated by a heart specialist (cardiologist).
The use of hip protectors for the very frail elderly may also reduce the incidence of hip fracture although further research on their use is needed.
If you need expert advice:
- Physiotherapists can provide assistance with aides for walking.
- Occupational therapists or your community health centre can advise you about making your home environment safer.
Helge EW, Kanstrup IL. Bone density in female elite gymnasts: Impact of muscle strength and sex hormones. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2002;34:174-80
This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at December 2013.