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How to stay on your feet and avoid serious injury

A simple task of reaching for a glass of water can result in a serious fall for Queenslanders staying in a residential aged care facility or a hospital.

This April No Falls month, Queensland Health is encouraging all older Queenslanders to look at ways they can reduce their risk of serious injury.

Launching the awareness month at Ipswich Hospital today, chairperson of the Falls Injury Prevention Collaborative Associate Professor Paul Varghese said more than 2,400 people would have a slip, trip or fall this year, in either a bathroom or toilet of a Queensland Health facility.

"Falls in toilets and bathrooms account for around one quarter of all falls," Professor Varghese said.

"We've looked at the data to identify the underlying factors for falls in these areas and found that most falls occur when a patient is reaching for an object or changing their position. The data also showed that men were more likely to fall than women."

Studies indicate that patients with cognitive problems such as dementia or delirium are also more likely to fall.

However, Professor Varghese said falls in hospitals and aged care facilities could be prevented.

Key actions patients in hospital could take to reduce the risk of falling include:

  • buzzing for help before you get up
  • getting up slowly - it's a good idea to sit on the side of the bed and count to five
  • making sure your bed is low enough for your feet to touch the floor when you sit on the side of the bed. If not, buzz for help and wait for someone to come and assist you
  • making sure you are wearing suitable footwear - surgical stockings and socks can be slippery so wear them with shoes
  • watching your step in the bathroom and be mindful when using the shower
  • using the grab rails in the bathroom and toilet to avoid slipping and ensure your pathway is not cluttered
  • don't rush to the bathroom - plan so that you have plenty of time and know your limits
  • if you don't feel confident getting up by yourself, play it safe and buzz for help

Queensland Health has a number of online resources for seniors and their family members or carers, with tips to avoid falls. For more information visit: www.health.qld.gov.au/stayonyourfeet/default.asp

Last updated: 4 July 2016