10 tips for preventing trips and falls

Those who suffer from physical and mental ailments often find that they’re a little unsteady on their feet.  Unfortunately, this can often lead to trips and falls within the home which, often with a little thought and care, can be prevented.

Suffering a fall can be distressing and can often exacerbate existing conditions.  Falls can also lead to hospital stays which can be extremely stressful for sufferers and their families.

We’re dedicated to helping to keep those we care for safe. The following tips can help to prevent a fall:

1. Diet

A lack of vital nutrients, energy and good hydration can often lead to weakness and dizziness and is, maybe surprisingly, a common cause of falls. As such, always ensure that you eat regular meals, including breakfast. Make sure that you drink plenty of water or eat special hydrating gummies to prevent dehydration. If an individual is reluctant to drink enough fluids, some good solutions include soup, sauce-based meals and jelly. Avoiding alcohol will significantly reduce the risk of falling.

For those with dementia or cognitive difficulties, it can help to set reminders to drink and eat.

2. On the move

Keeping your body active by doing plenty of regular gentle exercise, helps to retain muscle strength. This helps core stability and reduces the risk of falling.

Yoga and Tai Chi are ideal for those with limited mobility.  These exercises tend to be extremely gentle and can help keep muscles healthy, even for those with extremely limited mobility. Group activities such as swimming can offer exercise in a social environment.

A doctor may be able to recommend an at-home occupational or physical therapist.

Our expert at-home staff can help to encourage and implement gentle exercise routines.

Take a look at Age UK’s excellent and free guide on simple strength and balance exercises.

3. Equip yourself and your home

Often, our customers need a little extra help to stay safe in the home and when out and about. These changes are often small, but can provide immense benefit to reducing the risk of falls.

An occupational therapist or GP can offer advice on the right equipment for the specific needs of the individual. This can be as simple as a walking aid or equipment for the home such as grab rails and specialist showers and baths.

You may be eligible for financial help or loan services for personal and at-home equipment.

The types of equipment which can help include:

  • Walking sticks and frames - in most cases, these are available free of charge through your GP and your local hospital.
  • At-home ramps for easy access - You may be able to get financial help to have these installed in your home.
  • Hand rails for stairways and bathrooms -These are usually extremely affordable and can significantly reduce the risk of falls and accidents within the home.
  • Toilet chairs and seats – to raise the individual and provide rails for easier access.
  • Bath chairs and seats – to provide support and security in a wet environment where slips are likely.
4. Getting around

Falls often occur when standing up after sitting down for a while, or reaching for items around the home.  As we get older, dizziness when standing or moving very suddenly is extremely common.

Always take your time when standing up and when getting out of bed in the morning. Where possible, an adjustable bed can help to gradually move you to a sitting position before getting out of bed.

Before getting out of bed, always make sure that there is no clutter and no obstacles in your way which might cause an accident.

Once upright, take a moment to steady yourself before walking as sudden movement can trigger a fall.

If you need to wear glasses, make sure that you always have a pair close to the bed with a spare pair in a bedside drawer.

Be sure to use any aids and equipment that you have and always keep your equipment well maintained.

Ensure that you’re able to get help by keeping a mobile phone with you or wearing an aid call button.

5. Dressed for success

Ill-fitting or voluminous clothing can increase the risk of trips and falls.  Illness and old age can often result in weight loss or gain which can mean that clothing is ill- fitting or uncomfortable. As such, always make sure that you are wearing clothing which fits you well today.

Consider the fastenings on your clothing and make sure that clothing is secured with no loose parts such as dressing gown belts.

Wear footwear with non-slip soles for extra safety. Where possible, wear tie-up shoes or those with Velcro fastenings.

Keep toenails trimmed to ensure that shoes fit properly.

Use tools such as shoe-horns when dressing to prevent loss of balance.

6. Declutter

The most common cause of falls in the home, in our experience, is tripping over obstacles, often in poor lighting or in the dark.  

Make sure that your home is safe by ensuring that any hazards are removed:

  • Avoid leaving clothes, magazines and other objects on the floor - taking particular care on and near stairs.
  • Always check that there are no loose threads on rugs and carpets.  Also check carpets regularly to make sure that they are secure with no loose corners.
  • Keep cabinet and cupboard doors closed when not in use.  Keep cupboard doors regularly maintained to prevent them from opening by themselves.
  • Always make sure that you have clear access from one room to another. It’s a good idea to use night lights along skirting boards to light your way, as well as ensuring overhead lighting is excellent during waking hours.
  • Cover sharp corners of furniture with rubber guards.
  • Always clean up any spills immediately.
  • If you have pets, always make sure that you know where they are before moving around.
  • Don’t try to walk around the home whilst carrying other objects, and use rails where they exist.

Our expert at-home care staff can help to make sure that your home is safe and secure, offering peace of mind for you and your family.  We’ll help to check your home to make sure that there are no hazards which may result in trips and falls.

7. Personal care

Falls are common in the home when washing and dressing.  Prevent these falls by:

  • When feeling unsteady in the bathroom, avoid grabbing towel rails and soap holders. These may come loose and cause a more dangerous fall. Instead arrange the installation of grab rails.
  • Keep shower drains unclogged to avoid the build-up of soap scum which can be slippery.
  • Use rubber anti-slip mats inside the shower. These are extremely inexpensive and can be really helpful.
  • A shower chair and hand held shower can help to avoid slips and falls.
  • Avoid moving quickly when in the shower and steady yourself by using a grab rail.
  • Avoid locking doors as this may prevent you getting help.
  • In the bedroom, keep clothes and other everyday items within easy reach.
  • Avoid slippery fabrics for bedding such as satin.

There are numerous aids available to help individuals with their personal care to minimise the risk of falls. An occupational therapist can advise on these.

8. Steps and stairs

Steps and stairs pose obvious additional hazards in the home.  Avoid falls and trips here by:

  • Keeping hands free when using stairs. If you need to carry items up and down stairs, do this one at a time to ensure that you always have one hand free to hold the bannister.
  • Always install a handrail or banister and ensure it is secure.
  • Avoid distractions when using stairs. Never use your phone while making your way up and down stairs.
  • If you have mobility issues, consider investing in a stair-lift.
9. Keeping an eye out

Issues with vision can significantly increase the risk of trips and falls:

  • Always make sure that you wear glasses if you need them.
  • Remove reading glasses when moving around the home. Glasses which should only be used for reading can cause disorientation when worn at other times.
  • Keep your home well-lit and keep a torch handy in case of power cuts. Try to avoid creating disorientating shadows with artificial lighting.
  • Always have your eyes checked by a professional on a regular basis.  If necessary, many opticians will provide in-home appointments.
10. Medication and side effects

If you are taking medication, always ask your GP about any side effects that you should be aware of.

  • Always read the instructions on your medication.
  • Use a medication organiser to make sure that you are taking your medication when you should be.
  • Ask for regular reviews of your medication.  
  • Ask for help to navigate the often complex world of medication. We know that illnesses and conditions tend to fluctuate which can make your medication less effective. 
  • Monitor the effectiveness of your medication and visit your GP as needed.

Get help when you need it

Many falls and trips can be prevented, yet they can have devastating consequences. Having the right care and support on-hand within the home is often the best fall-prevention method of all. Asking for that help before falls become troublesome can prevent many difficulties.

Our staff can offer assistance with bespoke services for care and support within the home. Our services are flexible and tailored to the individual and our carers are trained in fall-prevention.

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