Make Your Home Safer
Your home should be a safe and comfortable environment for you to live in.
Hazards can be found inside and outside of your home. When these hazards combine with other factors such as poor vision, weak bones, unsafe footwear and side effects of medicines, this can increase your risk of having a fall.
Hazards in the home can come in a variety of forms, so it is important to check your home for hazards regularly to avoid a fall. Try using the Home Safety Checklist to look out for hazards in your home.
- Not enough lighting
- Carrying shopping bags or handbags
- Tripping over objects on the floor, stairs or dangling from furniture
- Slipping or tripping on loose mats and rugs and on slippery floors
- Tripping on uneven floors, over shower hobs and on stairs
- Slipping or tripping on wet or uneven paths
- Tripping over tools and other objects left on the lawn or in the garage
- Remove rugs, mats, slippery tiles and objects on the floor
- Ensure you have enough lighting and you turn lights on
- Clean up spills immediately
- Move your furniture to create larger walkways
- Keep everyday objects in easy to reach areas
- If you need assistive equipment speak to your GP or care provider
- If you have a fall always make sure you let someone know
- Be aware of small changes to your vision like cataracts or watery eyes, and visit an optometrist or your GP
- Get your eyes checked regularly
- Wear properly fitted glasses, as advised by your optometrist
- Take time to adjust to new lenses
- Make sure bifocals fit correctly, and remove them when walking up and down stairs
- Consider having two pairs of glasses instead of multifocal lenses, as older people who use multifocal lenses have a greater risk of falling
- Allow eyes to adjust when moving to an area of different light
- Clean glasses often
- Do not wear someone else’s glasses.
- Ensure there is good lighting in your house
- Use plain coloured floor patterns
- Put contrast strips on the edge of stairs to help see depth
- Put contrast strips on edges of shelves to assist with depth perception
- When moving from an area of different light (inside/outside), stop and hold onto a steady object while your eyes adjust.
Wear Safe Footwear
Your feet provide support and balance to your body when it is in different positions. If you have foot pain and foot problems you may walk more slowly and have difficulty doing tasks like housework or shopping. Over time, foot problems can also reduce your mobility which leads to a loss of independence.
We need good shoes to support our feet. If we are not supported, how can we stand tall, walk or move around? Shoes are important because they support the feet and protect them from extreme temperatures, moisture, hazards in the environment and injury, and they help us to perform whatever activities we are doing. Shoes that do not fit well can contribute to discomfort, injury and permanent foot problems. Wearing shoes which hurt our feet can alter our walking and can put us off-balance.
Studies have shown that high heels make you less stable and balanced when walking. Broader heels are safer than narrow heels. A safe heel should be broad with a round shape and a heel height less than 2cm.
Foam material is used in the middle sole area of shoes to provide comfort. A good shoe will have cushioning, but not so much so that the foot is not stable and can’t feel the ground.
The slip resistance of the outer sole of a shoe is important to prevent slipping. The amount of tread on a shoe sole can increase your risk of tripping. Too much tread causes shoes to grab the ground; while a smooth slippery sole makes shoes slip; both increase your risk of falling.
A rounded heel improves slip resistance by increasing the surface contact area of the shoe as the heel strikes the floor. This can help to reduce slip-related falls.
Heel collar height
Shoes with a high heel collar support the ankle. This helps to prevent ankle injury and provides your brain with more information to help you maintain your balance.
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Toe deformities.
These foot complaints are all very common and can be very painful. People with foot complaints will often alter the way they walk to take the pressure off the sore. This can impact your walking style and balance, which can cause a fall. It is best to see your GP or podiatrist if you have any foot complaints. As well as treating the issue, they can find shoes specifically for your feet and any foot conditions.
- Australian Podiatry Association WA: www.podiatrywa.com.au
- Your local Podiatrist
Now you know how to move your body, improve your health and remove hazards to prevent falls why not try the Falls Risk checklist?