Remove Hazards to support yourself in reducing your risk of having a fall.
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 the side effects of medicines, the risk of having a fall increases. In 2018 over half of all falls-related hospitalisations in Western Australia occurred within a home or an aged care facility, reinforcing the need for your home to be your ‘safe place’.
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. Watch our Make Your Home Safer animation to learn how Frank and Tiddles make their home safer and avoid slips, trips and falls. After watching the animation try using the Home Safety Checklist to identify hazards in your home.
- Not enough lighting.
- Carrying shopping bags or handbags.
- Using unstable furniture are a walking aid.
- Tripping over objects on the floor, stairs or dangling from furniture.
- Slipping or tripping on loose mats/rugs and 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.
- Tripping over pets.
- 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.
- You could use a personal alarm or keep a mobile phone close.
- Be aware of small changes to your vision.
- Have your eyes checked every two years by your GP or Optometrist.
- Wear properly fitted glasses, as advised by your Optometrist.
- Take time to adjust to new lenses.
- Make sure bifocals fit correctly.
- Allow your eyes to adjust when moving to an area of different light.
- Clean your glasses often.
- Ensure there is good lighting in your house.
- Avoid patterned carpets and furniture.
- Put contrast strips on the edge of stairs, any changes in floor surfaces and on shelves to help see depth.
- Clearly mark pillars, poles and other structures that may obscure walkways.
- When moving into an area with different light (e.g. when going from inside to outside), stop and hold onto a steady object while your eyes adjust.
- Clearly mark glass doors at eye level and ensure door handles contract with the door.
- Reduce glare by installing blinds or curtains and using matt surfaces for tables and other services.
Wear Safe Footwear
We need good shoes to support our feet. Our shoes are our direct source of contact with the ground, so the shoes we wear can affect our posture, stability, balance, safety and gait. If we are not well supported, how can we stand tall, walk or move around efficiently?
The main functions of shoes are to support our feet and protect them from extreme temperatures, moisture, hazards in the environment, injury, and to support us with daily activities. Shoes that do not fit well can cause discomfort, injury and permanent foot problems. Wearing shoes which hurt our feet can alter our walking and cause us to be off-balance.
We all grow older and as we do our feet change. Bone deformities such as bunions or arthritis, skin changes and difficulties undertaking basic foot care can lead to foot health issues and can increase our risk of having a fall.
Studies have shown that high heels can make you less stable and unbalanced when walking. A safe heel should be broad, with a round shape and a height less than 2cm. The more surface area of the sole that is in contact with the ground, the more stable the shoe.
Foam material is used in the middle sole area of shoes to provide comfort. A good shoe will have cushioning, but not too much 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 a shoe has can increase the likelihood of tripping. Too much tread can cause the shoe to grab the ground, while a smooth slippery sole will make the shoe slip; both of which 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 may help lessen slip-related falls.
Heel collar height
A firm, supportive heel is recommended.
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Thick toenails
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.
You can keep your feet healthy as you age through proper maintenance, care and regular check-ups with your Podiatrist.
Here are some things you can do:
- Moisturise your feet daily. Your skin is the first line of defence to injury infection. Keep it healthy and flexible; not dry, papery and fragile.
- If you can cut your toenails yourself, make sure you trim them just short of the end of the toe, using a strong pair of nail clippers.
- After clipping, smooth the nails with a file or emery board, using downward strokes away from the body.
- It is also important to have your feet measured frequently as the bones in your feet change with age, this way you can ensure you choose shoes that fit well and are comfortable. Where possible ask for your feet to be measured when buying shoes.
- Clean between toes daily. If you can’t see your feet between your toes, use mirrors.
- Complete an annual check-up with your Podiatrist to assess the nerve and blood supply to your feet.
- Australian Podiatry Association WA: podiatrywa.com.au
- Your local Podiatrist.
- Your GP.
Now you know how to move your body, improve your health and remove hazards to prevent falls why not try the Falls Risk checklist?