Fall Prevention and Safeguarding

Reduce your risk by helping yourself to feel safe

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, GP’s 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.
  • If you need help to achieve any of these points, Age UK organise Handyman services across the UK. Visit www.ageuk.org

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.
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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 four 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 60’s and you may be eligible for help with the cost of glasses)