old_lady_fall_falls.jpgDuring the winter months the risk of falling increases. It's worth having a think about how you can reduce your risk. 

If you have fallen in the past, making changes to reduce your chances of having a fall can also help you overcome any fear of falling.

Some older people may be reluctant to seek help and advice from a GP and other support services about preventing falls because they believe their concerns will not be taken seriously. But all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person's health and independence.

Leanne Armstrong, Senior Advanced Clinical Practitioner in Frailty at North CumbriaLeanne Armstrong.jpg Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As we get older, our muscle strength and balance reduces, which can lead to a fall. Exercises designed to improve muscle strength can reduce your risk of a fall by improving your posture, coordination and balance. 

“It’s important to keep an eye on your appetite and try and make sure you’re eating well. It's always better to eat something, even if it's small snacks throughout the day instead of three main meals. Getting enough energy is important in keeping up strength and preventing falls.

“As well as eating well, you should make sure you’re drinking plenty. If you don’t drink enough it’s likely that you’ll start to feel light-headed which will increase your risk of a fall. Try to drink about six to eight glasses of fluid a day.”

Some health conditions, medications and footwear can also affect your ability to stay steady on your feet. You might not notice your health changing as it can happen gradually, so it's important to have regular check-ups so any issues can be picked up before they cause a fall.

Leanne continues: “Our eyesight changes as we age and can lead to a trip or loss of balance. Get your eyes and glasses checked regularly – at least every two years. This will detect any vision problems early, before they cause you to lose your balance and coordination.

“Problems with your feet or shoes can affect your balance and increase your risk of tripping or falling. Talk to your doctor or nurse about any foot issues.”

You should also discuss any falls you have had with a GP and say if it's had any impact on your health and wellbeing. The GP can carry out some simple balance tests to check whether you're at an increased risk of falling in the future. They can also refer you to useful services in your local area.

Avoiding falls at home

Tips for preventing falls in the home include:

  • immediately mopping up spillages
  • removing clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
  • using non-slip mats and rugs
  • making sure all rooms, passages and staircases are well lit
  • organising your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
  • getting help to do things you're unable to do safely on your own
  • not walking on slippery floors in socks or tights
  • not wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
  • wearing well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle
  • taking care of your feet by trimming your toenails regularly and seeing a GP or podiatrist (foot health professional) about any foot problems

Some advice as to how you can stop falls in hospital:

  • bring your walking aids, hearing aids and glasses to hospital with you
  • wear comfortable clothing that is not too long, loose or tight
  • wear comfortable, well fitting, flat, non slip shoes or slippers
  • get to know the ward and where the toilet is
  • learn how to use the bed controls and call bell
  • ask for help if you feel unsteady
  • move around to keep up your strength, the physio team are there to assist you with this
  • don’t spend long periods in bed, even on the weakest of days attempt to sit in the chair a little while.