Tips for independence and falls risk reduction by Monique King, founder of the Stay Standing Program.
1. Stay positive.
Consciously setting and achieving goals at any age is good for self-efficacy and emotional wellbeing. This enhances our confidence for independence. We can train ourselves to focus on positive outcomes. This is not about vague thinking and hoping things will get better. This is about active participation in achieving our desired result.
2. Stay active.
Physical inactivity is a risk factor for disease and falling. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines and the Physical Activity Recommendations for Older Australians agree that even a slight increase in physical activity can make a difference to a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
3. Stay safe at home and away.
An Occupational Therapist can help you to improve your safety at home with:
- support and education about falls risk;
- assessment of your ability to perform activities of daily living;
- home risk assessment, and organising home modifications;
- provision of aids and equipment for mobility and independence.
Beyond the home, there are some commonsense ways to move around safely as a pedestrian in the community: avoid times when you are likely to be jostled by crowds, cross the road only at pedestrian crossings and traffic islands, wear light coloured and reflective clothing, distance glasses, walking and hearing aids if applicable. If you live in a hot climate, keep well hydrated for a clear head and stable blood pressure. Avoid the heat of the day or wear sun protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses, which brings us to the next strategy.
4. Stay clear sighted.
Imagine trying to function without visual input. Our balance is highly reliant on visual cues. If our vision is poor, our balance is more reliant upon the vestibular system of the inner ear, and proprioception from joints, muscles and tendons.
We can make the most of our vision by:
- making things bigger, such as large print books or direction signs;
- wearing stronger than usual reading glasses;
- making lighting brighter to improve a person’s sensitivity to objects of low contrast;
- using bolder colours to give objects better contrast against their background; and
- using mobility aids.
5. Stay sure footed.
We are connected to this planet by gravity and a very thin piece of material between the ground and our skin, called a shoe. When you think about it in light of the principles of physics, there are so many forces acting upon us, the simple act of standing up and walking around becomes an admirable feat. Give your feet, and the rest of your body, a helping hand by choosing safe shoes.
- are well fitted and attached;
- firmly support around the back of your heel;
- have a broad heel for even weight distribution;
- have enough room above and in front of your toes to allow them to wriggle;
- have a non slip sole;
- have a flexible sole at the ball of your foot;
- are made of breathable, hygienic material.
6. Keep your bones strong.
In order for our bones to remain healthy, we need a supply of vitamin D and the mineral calcium. A deficiency in these substances can lead to thinning and weakening of bones, or osteoporosis. (Osteoporosis is not to be confused with osteoarthritis, which involves painful wear and inflammation of joints and associated tissues).
7. Manage your medications.
Every year around 210,000 Australians are admitted to hospital due to avoidable medication – related problems. Whatever your attitude towards medicine, it is important to have your medications reviewed regularly, especially if you take four or more different medications a day. A medication review by a doctor or pharmacist should include prescribed, over the counter and herbal preparations.
These 7 strategies are best practice principles of falls risk reduction. They are also topics from the Stay Standing Program for older people who live in community settings. The Stay Standing Program is accredited by the Australian government as a quality program, and is a member of the Healthy Living Network. The Stay Standing Program combines the principles of self – efficacy coaching with scientifically supported falls risk reduction strategies to empower Seniors with independence.
The Stay Standing program can help you or someone you know to stay independent now and for years to come. Contact us now about attending a Stay Standing program in your local area by calling Sandy on 07 3871 3220 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is so much to learn. I feel more confident with my walking now even my daughter commented when we were out recently how much better my walking is. ~ Pat Colbran, 83, Stay Standing Graduate 2013.