Don't fall for it

Just in case...

Page last updated: 06 May 2011

How to reduce injury

It is not possible to predict if, how, where and when you might fall, or how little or much you might be injured. Even though most falls don’t result in serious injury, you may be unable to get up without help.

Therefore, it is important to think ahead and make a plan of things you can do to safeguard yourself. This will help you to feel not only safer, but more confident and in control.

You can make an emergency plan for yourself on page 32.

The damage done by any fall depends on how, where and when we land, how strong our bones and skin are, and how quickly help comes.

1) How, where and when we land

Most falls happen from standing height. The damage done by a fall increases if the fall is from any extra height, even a single step. It is also increased if you hit something on the way down. Falling outside in very hot, cold or bad weather can also stress our bodies, especially if it is not possible to get help for a while.

What you can do:

  • Remove clutter, particularly things that can hurt you badly, such as a glass coffee table.
  • Realistically consider what chores are now too risky for you to do and arrange for someone else to do them. In particular, avoid anything that involves you getting up higher than floor level. Don’t put pride before a fall!

2) How strong our bones and skin are

People with osteoporosis (weak or thin bones) are more likely to break a bone as a result of a fall than those with healthy bones.

Similarly, people who have skin that is easily bruised or torn are more likely to need medical help after a fall.

What you can do:

  • Talk to your doctor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist about hip protectors. A serious injury from a fall in older people is a broken hip. There are ‘hip protectors’ available. These are placed inside special underwear and positioned over the hip to protect it in the event of a fall. They can reduce the chance of a broken hip and are particularly recommended for people who are thin, osteoporotic (have thin bones) or who are falling frequently.
  • Consider whether you need limb protectors. Limb protectors are like thick sleeves or footless leggings and are designed to protect then skin from tears and grazes.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to keep your bones strong. This may involve calcium and vitamin D supplements, other medications, eating calcium rich foods, exercise and/or exposure to a little sunshine (up to 15 minutes on most days).

Where you can find help or advice:

  • Independent Living Centre
  • Local council for help with household maintenance and chores
  • Commonwealth Carelink
See page 29 for a list of support services for older people.