FALLS affected one in four older Australians every year but many falls could be prevented, a Southern Health spokesman said.

The risk of falling increases as people get older and a fall can be devastating in an older person’s life if it leads to less activity, independence, and greater fear of falling.

But what can be done to reduce the risk of falls?

Southern Health falls prevention coordinator Kellie White said being aware of risk factors could help.

“Ensuring your home environment is safe by increasing lighting, raising the length of nighties, installing rails in the bathroom and where steps are, and removing mats and clutter around your home are simple ways to reduce your risk.

“Maintaining physical strength through exercise such as walking and balance exercise programs will also reduce your risk of falls.”

Older people’s ability to adjust their eyes when going from bright sunshine to a darkened room deteriorates, so Ms. White suggested leaving lights on during the day when going inside and outside often, and having your eyes checked every two years.

“Take your time when entering a darkened room to allow your eyes to adjust to the change in brightness,” she said.

Wearing multifocal or bifocal glasses was not recommended if a person had balance problems because it could cause dizziness and reduce the ability to see changes in uneven surfaces.

“Having a safety plan in your home, and the ability to call for help if needed can help reduce your anxiety and fear of falling.

“Have a phone low to the ground or a portable phone.

“Practising getting up after a fall will also help overcome these fears.”

Solid lace-up shoes helped to stop feet rolling over or tripping; scuff shoes were not recommended.