Feeling safe both in your own home and in your local area is what we all want. As we get older, we all have increased risk of falling, coupled with sight loss this can be even more challenging.
The good news is that NCBI is here to advise and support you, your family and carers on fall prevention.
There are many simple changes you can make to your own environment to reduce the risk of falling.
Maximising your vision
The following are important factors in ensuring that you use your remaining sight to its greatest extent.
- Regular eye checks – It is important to visit an Optometrist at least every 2 years. More regular check ups may be necessary if you have been diagnosed with an eye condition. If you notice a sudden significant change in your vision, visit your eye care professional without delay.
- Make sure your spectacle prescription is up to date and that you are wearing the correct spectacles for the task at hand. Make sure your glasses are clean and free of scratches.
- Bi-focal spectacles are not recommended for people at risk of falls and careful consideration should be given when using the stairs whilst wearing bi-focals.
- Ensure all areas in your home have good quality and consistent lighting.
- Ensure circulation pathways within your home are kept clear of obstacles.
- Use bold colours that contrast to the wall or floor colour to highlight obstacles and level changes (step up or down) and to make grab rails easier to see.
Safety Tips for the Home Environment
There are hazards both inside and outside the home that may cause falls:
- Uneven flooring
- Poor lighting
- Trailing wires
- Loose or worn rugs or carpets
- Furniture or objects in walkways
- Steps and stairs with no handrails
- Pets ( a cat or a dog can be easily unnoticed and provide a trip hazard)
- Uneven and loose paving
- Slippery leaves or icy pavements
Safety Tips for the Home Environment
- Ensure circulation pathways within your home are kept clear of obstacles
- Remove mats, rugs or cords that are a potential trip hazard
- Repair or replace torn carpet
- Fit a draft excluder to the bottom of the door instead of using a loose draft excluder
- Wipe up spills IMMEDIATELY
- Do not rush when answering the phone and the door bell, warn friends that it may take you longer to reach the telephone. Have a telephone extension socket fitted upstairs. Consider carrying your mobile phone in your pocket.
- Avoid clothes which may cause you to trip such as trialling night dresses and belts from dressing gowns
- Avoid poor fitting shoes
- Minimise bending and climbing by storing items used most often within easy reach
- Consider your seating : ensure it is comfortable and at the appropriate height to enable you to sit and stand safely. Higher chairs with solid armrests are recommended
- Be organised at night-time, keep your glasses, telephone and a torch within reach on your bedside locker
- Ensure lighting is consistent throughout your house
- Pay particular attention to ensure good quality lighting on stairways and dark areas within your home
- Consider installing light switches at the top and bottom of stairs
- Fit sensor lights at the front and back doors of your home
- A touch lamp on your bedside locker can be helpful for night-time
- Keep a torch by your bedside in the event of a power outage
- While maximising the amount of lighting in your home be mindful of producing glare.
- When moving between different levels of lighting e.g. moving indoors to outdoors give yourself enough to time to allow your eyes to adjust to this change.
Consider the following modifications to reduce glare in your home:
- Use matt finishes on walls and floors as opposed to gloss.
- Use plain light coloured shades (ideally white) that encases the bulb completely. Uplighters are also suitable.
- Use blinds on windows to help control glare.
- Use antiglare protection.
Your NCBI CRW can advise you on the most suitable lighting options and how to manage glare.
Additional Home Adaptations
Grab bars can help you get into and out of your bath or shower and can help prevent falls. Consider installing grab rails that contrast to the wall colour.
- Use non-slip rubber mats in bath or shower
- Install a raised toilet seat or safety frame if the toilet is too low
- Choose non-slip surfaces for bathroom and kitchen areas
- Keep toiletries in a shower caddy that can be attached to the bath or shower to prevent reaching and stretching.
- Ideally, handrails should be installed on both sides of the stairs. The rails should be round, in a contrasting colour and should extend 30cm beyond the top and bottom of the stairs
- Consider having a stairlift installed.
Contact your CRW for further advice and information
Plan ahead consider the route you are taking; consider your footwear, weather conditions and if glare will be an issue for you
- Walk on level surfaces where possible
- Avoid slippery surfaces e.g. mossy steps, icy paths
- If you have a walking aid use it at all times as it will help to increase your stability and confidence while also reminding others to be considerate of your needs
- Take extra care on buses and trains and ask bus drivers not to move off until you are sitting down
Information on all of the above, as well as an assessment of your needs, can be obtained from your Community Resource Worker and/or your Community Occupational Therapist
If you are concerned that your vision or that of your family member is presenting problems with mobility or increasing the fear or risk of falling please contact NCBI for further advice and information.
There are other factors that may increase the risk of falling and if you have concerns:
- Talk to your GP, PHN or Community Resource Worker
- Consider how you could prepare to get help if you have a fall, e.g. wear a pendant alarm
- If possible always carry your mobile phone on your person
- Have regular contact with family and friends so that they know you are safe and well
- Remember to take regular exercise, even a short walk, as this will help to keep your muscles strong and joints supple
- Ask your Community Resource Worker, family or PHN to help you organise a pendant alarm which will give you the reassurance that help will come if you need it
If you require further information on any of the issues or services raised or you would like to be referred to NCBI Services you can do so in the following ways: