Between one third and half of people aged over 65 suffer a fall in any given year. Most of these falls are minor, but about 25% will result in physical injury and require medical attention.
Because falls can have a serious impact upon the health, well-being and confidence of older people, GPs and other health professionals take fall prevention very seriously and a great deal of help and support is available.
This page looks at the most common causes of falls around the home - and how they can be prevented.
About the house:
- Remove clutter and address trip hazards such as frayed carpeting, wrinkled rugs and loose wires.
- Use high-wattage light bulbs so you can see all areas clearly
- Put non-slip mats and rugs down on slippery floors and mop up spillages immediately.
- Use only sturdy and stable steps to reach heights and ensure the floor surface is flat and even.
- Organise furnishings so you can move around easily, keep bending and stretching to a minimum and keep open spaces tidy.
- Keep electric appliances close to plug sockets and secure trailing flexes.
- Check stair carpets for wear and tear that can increase the risk of slipping.
About your person:
- Avoid wearing clothing you may trip over, such as very long skirts or trousers that may catch your heel.
- Avoid walking on slippery surfaces in socks or tights.
- Wear well-fitting shoes and see a chiropodist if you experience problems with your feet.
- Consider installing an active alarm system, worn as a pendant or bracelet, which is linked to the phone so you can call for help in case of a fall.
Help yourself to feel safe: fear of falling can be as disabling as a fall itself.
- Ask your GP for a home hazard assessment – you may benefit from safety measures such as grab rails in the bathroom.
- Exercise – any physical activity you enjoy is good, but strength and balance exercises such as Tai Chi or programmes designed for older people are particularly helpful.
- Check your diet – calcium and Vitamin D (also gained from time in the sun) help keep bones strong and regular meals are important to keep blood sugar levels steady.
- Reduce your alcohol intake –remember it leads to loss of co-ordination and can exaggerate the effect of some medications . Older people are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.
- Ask your GP to review your medication every 12 months, especially if taking for or more a day. Medications for depression, anxiety and sleep problems can increase the chances of falling. Contact your GP immediately if you suffer dizziness or light-headedness.
- Have your eyesight checked regularly (it’s free for over 60s and you may be eligible for help with the cost of glasses)