Public transport can be a great way for older people to get around, but it is also important to be mindful of our safety to prevent falls.
Due to many factors such as climate change, frequency and the convenience of public transport, many older Australians have opted for buses or trams as their primary method of travel.
Although the public transport system may carry plenty of benefits, it can still hold risks for older people, one of those being falls.
An example of this can be when it is crowded or if there are bumps on the road. As you age, your coordination skills start to decline, making you prone to accidents.
This is why we decided to share 9 tips to keep in mind when using public transport to prevent falls.
How to prevent falls on public transport:
1. Take the bus outside of peak hours.
Peak hours are usually between 7:00 am to 9:30 am and 15:30 to 19:00. If you decide to take the bus during this period, you may encounter crowds on the bus.
If you have an unstable balance, you may place yourself at risk and hurt yourself. If you must travel during peak hours, please plan the route in advance. Ensuring you are not in crowds or unstable will help prevent falls while you travel.
2. Avoid travelling in bad weather.
It is advised for older Australians to reduce or avoid travelling during bad weather such as rain, hailstones, fog and high temperatures. This is suggested as your chance of developing heatstroke, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases are increased.
Another reason to avoid travelling during bad weather is that your risk of falling increases due to a wet surface so steering clear of this will help prevent falls.
3. Do not ride on unfamiliar routes.
Australia’s public transportation system is complex, with many stations. You may be familiar with certain routes, however, if you are travelling to a destination you have not been to before it is advised to plan your journey in advance and to be prepared. Things such as paying attention to the names of the different stations. This is to help you avoid any difficult situations such as missing a stop.
4. Don’t run to catch up.
It is recommended to not run after a bus or tram, this is because your chances of slipping will increase. If there is a bus shelter, you should opt to wait there for your bus as opposed to standing on the road. Do not slap the body of the bus or tram to alert the driver as this endangers not only yourself but other passengers onboard.
5. Hold hands steady after getting on the transport and try to sit down first.
When you board the bus or tram, make sure to hold on to the rails immediately and make your way to a seat.
Do not try to change seats when the bus or tram is in motion as this may result in an injury. Only moving when the transport is at a stop will help prevent falls.
6. Sit as far forward as possible on the bus.
The third and fourth rows behind the bus driver’s seat are the most stable positions, therefore it is recommended when travelling on the bus to sit in the front.
This is reducing your risk of getting into an accident because as you make your way towards the back of the bus, the bumps become more obvious and some areas may not have handrails or support points to assist you when exiting.
7. Feet apart when standing without a seat.
If you enter the bus or tram and notice that there are no seats, you may be able to use this tactic when standing. It is recommended to keep your feet apart as this increases your support and reduces the front and rear momentum that is caused by braking.
It is best to face the direction of the vehicle or the direction of the window and hold on to the handrail. If you have a trolley or shopping cart with you, it should be placed in a safe range to prevent greater damage should there be an abrupt stop. This can help prevent falls.
8. Wait for the bus or tram to stop before exiting.
When many older Australians take the bus, they are afraid that they will pass their stop and end up standing up abruptly.
Therefore it is recommended to wait for the bus to stop before standing up to exit. There is no need to worry about getting off the bus or tram as all drivers pay attention to the movements of passengers and will reserve time to facilitate everyone’s exit.
9. Having someone to accompany you when needed.
If you are not feeling well, it is recommended to have someone assist you on your travels. This is particularly important if you have issues with mobility or asthma etc.
You have the option to ask family, friends, a carer or your Support Worker to be with you in making your journey more seamless and helping to prevent falls.
At Let’s Get Care, we provide a range of services including supports to help prevent falls. If you do not have a Home Care Package and would like to learn more about this, feel free to reach out to our expert team on 1300 497 442.