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Falls Prevention Part 1/2

Medication, Vision, Foot Sensation, Footwear, Strength, Reaction Time and Balance

Updated: November 2018

Key Points:

The following may increase your risk of falling:

  • taking four or more medications per day

  • medications that have a direct affect on your brain

  • reduced vision

  • reduced sensation in your legs or feet (peripheral neuropathy)

  • incorrect footwear features

  • reduced strength, increased reaction time, poor balance (see part 2).

1. Medication

Did you know?

  • Older people are more likely to be taking a number of medications and be at risk of experiencing adverse effects from their medication.

  • The number of medications a person is taking and the type of medication can increase the risk of falling.

  • Medications such as sedatives, antidepressants or antipsychotics can increase your risk of falling by having a direct effect on your brain chemistry.

What can you do?

  • Discuss with your GP if a home medicines review would benefit you.

Home Medicines Review Information

2. Vision

Did you know?

  • People with reduced vision are more likely to fall from tripping over something they did not see clearly. This may be in the person's home or in the community.

  • Trips and falls can occur when lighting is poor or changes quickly eg at dusk, when there is a high level of glare or when moving from bright light into the dark or the other way round.

  • Two of the most important visual skills for safe mobility and avoiding falls are being able to clearly see edges of steps and other objects, and being able to judge distances.

What can you do?

  • Have your vision checked every year by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) or optometrist.

  • Wear a single-lens pair of glasses (not bifocal, trifocal or multi-focal glasses) when walking especially outside your home.

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses when outside to reduce glare.

  • Always put on your glasses and switch on the light at night even for short walks to the bathroom.

  • Avoid dimly lit areas and paths where possible.

3. Reduced Sensation in your Legs and Feet (Peripheral Neuropathy)

Did you know?

  • Leg and foot sensation provides information to your brain about your standing position and your leg movements. It is important so that you are aware of how and where to take your next step.

  • If you have reduced sensation in your legs or feet you rely more heavily on your vision to help know where and how to move around.

  • See Inform Podiatry to assess your leg and foot sensation.

What can you do?

  • Take particular care when walking on surfaces that are uneven or soft. For example; footpaths, uneven or rough ground and thick carpets and rugs.

  • avoid walking in dim or unlit areas if possible. Be sure you turn the light on before walking around the house at night.

  • Wear shoes with low heels and firm rubber soles to maximise leg sensation and balance.

  • Consider using a walking stick or a sturdy umbrella (rather than/ or in additional to a support) to help you compensate for sensation loss. A stick may give you extra information about footpath, road cracks and irregularities.

  • For more information on caring for feet with reduced feeling click on this blog post link.

4. Footwear

What makes a shoe safe?

  • Firm heel counter to provide stability.

  • Laces ensure the shoe "holds" onto your foot when walking.

  • Thin firm midsole so you can "feel" the ground underneath.

  • Textured sole to prevent slipping.

  • Broad, flared heel to maximise contact with the ground.

  • Beveled heel to prevent slipping.

  • See Inform Podiatry to assess your footwear.

What makes a shoe unsafe?

  • Soft or stretched uppers make your foot slide around in the shoe.

  • Lack of laces means your foot can slide out of the shoe.

  • Slippery or worn soles are a balance hazard, particularly in wet weather.

  • Narrow heels make your foot unstable and can cause ankle sprains.

  • High heels should be avoided as they impair stability when walking.

  • See Inform Podiatry to assess your footwear.

For more information on footwear features click on this blog post link or for more information on footwear brands and stores click on this blog post link.

5. Strength, Reaction Time, Balance

Why is it important to exercise?

  • Exercise helps to make your muscles stronger and more flexible.

  • Having stronger muscles and being more flexible improves your mobility and balance.

  • You are more likely to regain your balance and save yourself from falling if you exercise regularly.

  • Exercise can lift your spirits and helps you feel good about yourself.

  • See Inform Podiatry to assess your strength, reaction time and balance to help design a custom exercise program for you.

  • For a list of exercises with pictures click on this blog post link.

How do I book an appointment? You can either click the orange Book Appointment button below and use Inform Podiatry's online booking gateway or call 1300 602 674. If you reach the answering machine, we are busy with patients. Please leave your name, number and a brief message and we'll call you back as soon as we are free.

Information Sources:

Neura Quickscreen

Which treatment is best for me?

Researchers test different treatment options to see how successful they are. These tests are called a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Researchers also group together similar RCTs to compare the grouped test results. These grouped test results are called systematic reviews (SR). The results from RCTs and SRs are published in peer reviewed medical journals. Inform Podiatry uses these published results and our 25 years of clinical experience to provide you with up to date, evidence based, assessment, diagnosis and treatment options.

Disclaimer: This sheet was researched and developed by Inform Podiatry to provide general information. Inform Podiatry encourages everyone to receive an individual assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan for their foot or ankle pain.

Do you know someone with foot or ankle pain?

I would love to help them.

Inform Podiatry

Phone: 1300 602 674

Fax: 07 3041 0346

52 Isedale St Wooloowin QLD 4030

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