Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone but unfortunately, falls and their associated injuries are a serious health issue and are the leading cause of injury hospitalisation for older people.
Recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that close to 100,000 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised from a fall-related injury, three and a half times as many cases as 45 to 64 year olds.
Understanding that falls can happen to anyone, whatever their age, helps everyone to take falls seriously and to find ways to prevent falls before they happen.
Stay on Your Feet WA has developed nine steps to help reduce the likelihood of a fall. These nine steps have been adopted nationally and relate to the main factors that contribute to falls and can impact lifestyle, independence and environment.
Step 1: Be active
Taking part in physical activity is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of falling.
Step 2: Manage your medicines
All medicines have possible side effects. If you notice any symptoms, talk to your GP or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Step 3: Manage your health
A regular check-up with your GP is important so you can discuss any changes in your health you may have noticed or if you haven’t been feeling right.
Step 4: Improve your balance
Up to 25 per cent of falls in older people can be caused by poor balance. If you feel unsteady on your feet, your GP can help you identify things which may affect your balance.
Step 5: Walk tall
As you get older, the way you walk – or walking pattern, can change. It is important to keep your body upright and straight when you are walking.
Step 6: Foot care and safe footwear
As you get older your feet may change shape or lose feeling. Foot problems can be uncomfortable and cause pain which can make it difficult to walk and affect your balance.
Step 7: Regularly check your eyesight
Your eyesight may change in several ways as you get older. Looking after your eyesight can help reduce your risk of falling.
Step 8: Eat well for life
It is important for you to have a balanced diet and eat well. Poor nutrition and skipping meals can cause you to feel weak, dizzy, light headed and reduce your ability to concentrate, which can all lead to a fall.
Step 9: Identify, remove and report hazards
Hazards inside and outside the home can increase a person’s risk of falling such as slippery or wet floors, clutter or obstacles, poor lighting and lack of grab rails in bathrooms.