Falls are a leading cause of injury amongst older adults and can cause serious injuries. This is particularly true for people who have problems with balance or who have conditions such as osteoporosis.
What to do if you have had a fall?
If you've had a fall or you are afraid of falling then talk to your doctor. Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell and how you were feeling before the fall. These details may help your doctor identify specific fall risks and how to prevent them. They may also need to determine if your health conditions could cause a fall.
If you have a long term health condition you can attend the Expert Patient Programme, which will provide you with lots of helpful tips on managing your condition. If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist or a falls assessment service.
What can you do to help yourself, to avoid a fall?
Basic steps include taking particular care in times of bad weather such as rainy, icy or snowy conditions.
Watch out for slippery surfaces including:
- wet leaves
- uneven surfaces, such as loose or raised paving slabs.
In your home take particular care in the kitchen and bathroom and also on the stairs.
Harrow's Community Alarm service
Harrow's Community Alarm service has proven beneficial to people who are prone to falling or live alone. The service provides a 24-hour monitoring and response service via an alarm unit installed in your home. The service can also provide a range of different sensors including a falls detector. For more information see Harrow's Community Alarm service.
Increase your physical activity
Being physically active can help prevent falls as it increases muscle strength and improves balance, posture, and joint flexibility. To increase levels of physical activity you could swim, join a walking group, or go dancing! If you have concerns contact your doctor about the kind of activity that would suit you.
Make your home safer
Take a look around your home, it may be filled with trip hazards which you can easily reduce. You can make your home safer by:
- keeping your walkways clear. Remove the clutter including boxes, newspapers, electrical cords or telephone cords from walkways
- move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands away from areas where you walk
- make sure that all carpets are firmly fixed to the floor and remove any loose throw rugs
- store things (clothes, food, dishes, etc.) within easy reach
- have grab rails fitted next to the toilet, bath and shower
- use nonslip mats in the bath or shower
- clean up any spillages
- have a telephone available in case of an emergency
- keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping over any objects that are hard to see
- Have a lamp within reach of your bed
- replace any faulty light bulbs straight away
- make sure that all walkways to light switches are clear of obstacles
- turn on the lights before going up or down stairs
- have a torch or flashlights available in case of emergency
For more information view a video by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.