For older people, the pain and distress of a fall in the home can be made worse by the feeling that their independence could be taken away. Falls are far from uncommon, but happily there's a lot that can be done to prevent them, both by paying attention to overall health and through alterations in the home itself.
Regular, moderate exercise can help to improve balance, muscle strength and confidence, as well as being a lot of fun. In New Zealand, there are senior citizen's clubs and societies all over the country that offer swimming, dancing and sporting activities as well as gentle exercise routines. The Citizens Advice Bureau can advise you on local options (tel 0800 367 222).
It's a good idea to cast a critical eye over the home; are there trip hazards like cables or loose rugs that could be avoided? Is every area, including stairways, well-lit enough? It's natural to want to hang on to our independence as we get older, and to carry on doing the things we've always done; but if that involves balancing on a wobbly chair to replace a lightbulb, now is the time to ask for (or offer) help!
It's not ageing alone that can increase the likelihood of a fall; medications can affect balance as well. Needs change, and it's a good idea to visit your doctor for a review of any drug regimes on a regular basis. Similarly, regular eye tests can help to spot any potential issues early.
Bathrooms and stairways are frequently the site of preventable falls. Non-slip mats in the tub or shower tray are a good idea at any age. Grab rails in both areas are helpful, and stairways should have securely attached bars on both sides. Non-slip strips on stairs are useful as well. For those who have begun to find stairs a little more tricky, a stairlift can allow people to stay in their homes for longer and retain independence, and can often cost less than you might think.
Acorn stairlifts are available to fit both curved and straight stairways. No structural changes are needed, and power is supplied from a normal AC outlet. Installation is quick and clean; Acorn stairlifts are affixed to the stair rather than the wall, and operation is both easy and quiet. Individual fitting costs vary, and we're always happy to supply a quote for a straight stair lift, curved stairlift or even outdoor stairlift that enables you to benefit from easy access to your garden or outdoor space.
Finally, don't neglect the simple stuff! Keep frequently-used items nearby (TV remotes and the like), and wear shoes and slippers that fit well. The key to staying independent as long as possible is to accept that people change as they get older, embrace that change, and make any necessary changes sooner rather than later!