Prevention of Falls

Anyone who has fallen, especially as an older adult, knows how quickly this can happen. And once you start falling of course, there’s very little can stop you. In our experience with our families and working with older people for over 15 years at Home Instead Bolton, we’ve seen many times, how taking a fall can set off a chain of events that can lead to a serious and sometimes life changing impact on health and wellbeing.

So, with falls, we believe the best thing is to concentrate on prevention. Fortunately, there’s lots of things we can do both for ourselves, and in the environment at home and outside that can massively help. In this article, we are going to look at some great and easy preventative measures that can really help and hopefully keep you on your feet! 

Are you at risk of falling?

It’s true that anyone of any age can be at risk of falling. As we get older our risk increases due to a number of factors. If any of these apply to you, it may increase your risk of falling

  • I have had a fall but not seen anyone about it
  • My medication has changed
  • I often need to get up in the night to go to the bathroom
  • I haven’t had an eye test in the last 12 months
  • I sometimes feel dizzy or light headed
  • I have a long term condition such as Parkinsons, heart disease/stroke, arthritis, diabetes, dementia
  • My slippers are old and “lived in”
  • I’m not very active
  • My home has clutter that’s built up over the years
  • I fell once before and have lost confidence

People can fall for all types of reasons, and some of the five most common are listed here below. Do any of these apply to you? 

5 Reasons Why Older People Fall

  1. Feet – poorly fitting, worn out footwear. 

It’s so easy to fall if you are wearing old, worn-out footwear such as slippers, in the home. These often provide little or no support and it’s easy to lose your footing. In the home especially, this can cause problems. So, some simple steps can help. 

  • Make sure your shoes and slippers hold your foot firmly in place, and avoid narrow heels, open backs or worn soles. 
  • House shoes can be a great alternative to slippers and provide more support giving you confidence and minimising risk of falling
  • See a podiatrist if your feet are painful 
  1. Eyes – reduced visibility (whether poor lighting or vision itself)
  • Have your eyes tested regularly (every two years if under 70, annually thereafter) – it’s free if you’re over 65.
  • Look after your glasses, and clean them often
  1. Health – not eating properly, dehydration, not taking medication as prescribed.
  • Keep eating healthily, and don’t go for long periods between meals – little and often is very helpful.
  • Drink lots of water – keeping hydrated is so important for your day-to-day health and well being
  • Always take your medicines on time, as prescribed. Have your meds checked by your GP especially if there have been recent changes to your prescriptions.
  1. Mobility – lack of mobility can lead to muscle weakness, staying in because of fear of falling etc 
  • Try to keep doing little things every day; it will help you maintain balance and muscle strength
  • Continue with any exercises you have been advised to do
  • Look out for local exercise groups. These are often free to attend or with very low charge. They are also great fun and a good way of making new friends!
  1. Home – worn carpets, curled rugs, uneven steps, trailing wires etc.

There are lots of potential hazards in your own home, and this is where you spend the most time. Taking a fresh look at potential hazards can be really beneficial

  • Worn floor coverings, or curled up edges of mats/rugs
  • Trip hazards – including clutter, trailing cables, pets, 
  • Poor lighting – on the stairs or at night near the bathroom
  • Low beds and chairs – make getting up a struggle
  • Slippery floors in kitchens and bathrooms

Help is at hand!

There are resources that can help you with all of the potential hazards. These include your family, friends and the local health services such as your GP who can advise on managing your risk of falling. Also, in Bolton, the Age UK team have a dedicated falls prevention service and they can provide information, resources and also hold strength and balance groups across Bolton. Here is some information from Age UK Bolton-

In the aftermath of the lockdowns Age UK Bolton have now started offering Strength & Balance classes and activities once again. However places are limited and booking is essential in most cases. To Book Call 01204 382411 and ask for Niall or Laura.

NHS On Line Advice Service 

Follow this link on the NHS web site for some great advice on falls prevention