Who is more at risk of falling?
Some groups of people are more at risk of falling, particularly if there are hazards in their homes. Groups of people who are more at risk of falling include those who:
- Suffer from chronic health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, low blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, dementia or other cognitive impairments. These conditions can cause lack of co-ordination, dizzy spells and weakness.
- Are recovering from post-operative surgery or a serious injury or who have a physical disability.
- Have a loss of balance due to an infection, injury or fear of falling.
- Take medicines that have side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness or other loss of functioning. Side effects are more likely to occur if the person is regularly taking a number of medicines each day.
- Experience a decline in their muscle strength and joint flexibility. Reduced muscle strength and joint flexibility can make it more difficult for a person to stand up, walk, get out of a chair or their bed.
- Have a slower reaction time. The nerves that carry information to and from the brain can deteriorate as the result of disease and as we get older. This slows reaction time and the ability to move away from obstacles quickly enough. For example, avoiding a slippery patch on a floor.
- Suffer from poor vision. A person may not see as well as they used to which can affect their coordination and balance. It also means that they may not see tripping hazards such as a trailing wire or a pair of slippers left around etc.
What can I do to reduce the risk of falling?
We cannot remove all of the risks, but we can certainly reduce them by:
Can my medication increase my risk of falling?
Yes, in some cases the side effect of a medicine can increase the risk of falling by causing drowsiness, fainting, fatigue or dizzy spells. It is also important to note that some medicines may react with each other, which can exacerbate these problems.
Always read the information about side effects that comes with each of your medicines.
If you are taking any drugs that may have these effects, talk to your doctor. Do not simply stop taking the medicine as this could put your health at risk. With all medicines, the risks and benefits must be weighed. There may be alternative medication that your doctor could prescribe instead. You and your doctor will need to discuss all of the options and consider how best to manage any risks of falling.
With any new treatment it is always a good idea to ask your doctor the following questions regarding medicines and the risk of falling:
- Name of the medicine(s)
- The reason for taking the medicine and what the medicine does
- When you should take it
- Any special instructions about how you should take it e.g. with meals, not with dairy products, at bedtime etc. and for how long?
- What the possible side effects are (how your body might react to the medicine)
- Whether the medicine reacts to any other medicines, foods, drink or herbal supplements that you take
- If there is anything you should avoid doing while you are taking it, e.g. driving
- How you will know if the medicine is working
- When you need to see the doctor again.
Make sure you ask for a review of your medicines if you are concerned or have not had a review for over a year.
You can also talk to your pharmacist who can give useful advice on taking care at home with regards to medication and risk of falling.
How can Bluebird Care support me?
Bluebird Care can provide essential care and support to help keep you safe and to maintain your independence at home.
Different people have different needs, so we will always talk to you about the type of home care that is right for you. Before providing a service, a member of our senior team will visit you in your home to find out about your day to day living experience. We explore the type of services we can provide to meet your particular needs and preferences. Together we then create a personalised care and support plan to help you safely meet the challenges of day to day living.
This might include support with meal preparation, medicines, housekeeping, shopping, bathing and grooming and other important services. Help to do the tasks that you find difficult can significantly reduce the risk of falling. We regularly review your care and support plan with you, because we recognise that what you want or need may change.
Does my choice of footwear and clothes affect my risk of falling?
Yes. It is important to:
- Wear clothes that fit properly. It’s easy to trip on a coat, pair of trousers or bathrobe that is too long
- Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes since your size can change and ill-fitting shoes can increase the risk of falling
- Choose shoes and slippers that support your feet well and that have non-skid soles. Lace ups can provide more stability, but if you find tying laces difficult then select footwear with fabric fasteners
- Shop in the men's department if you're a woman who can't find wide enough shoes
- Use a long-handled shoehorn if you have trouble putting on shoes
- Keep your toenails trimmed.
How can I avoid falling when moving up and down stairs?
- Take extra care when using the stairs
- Avoid carrying any package that will obstruct your view of the next step
- Keep at least one hand on the handrail or if you do not have one, consider having one fitted
- Give all of your attention to moving up and down stairs and try not to be distracted, e.g. by conversations or other sounds
How can I avoid slips in the bathroom and bedroom?
- It’s never a good idea to grab a towel rack, shampoo holder or soap tray for support in the shower. These will not hold a person's weight. Talk to your health advisor or occupational therapist about fitting a grab rail
- Let the soap suds go down the drain before you move around in the shower to avoid slipping. Using a non-sip rubber mat is a good idea.
- Avoid turning suddenly
- If you are prone to falling, use a shower chair and a handheld shower attachment
- It may be safer not to lock the bathroom door because if you need help, someone can reach you without delay
- Arrange clothes in your wardrobes and cupboards so that they are easy for you to reach without stretching
- Replace satiny sheets with non-slippery sheets made from cotton
- If transferring either from or to your bed is difficult for you, seek advice about suitable aids such as blocks to raise the height of the bed
I prefer to be independent, is it better to manage by myself?
Having the right care and support when you need it can help you to live more safely and therefore keep your independence. You may have a relative who can help or you may wish to use the services of a professional home care agency, such as Bluebird Care
What can I do to make sure I can see clearly?
- Always wear glasses if you need them, but remember to remove reading glasses before you walk
- Have your eyes checked regularly
- Keep areas where you regularly move about well lit. 100-watt bulbs are recommended, except where this exceeds the recommended wattage for your particular light fittings
- Have a torch handy for use in the event of a power failure.
I live alone, how can I summon help if I need it?
It is particularly important if you live alone that someone regularly calls round to see how you are. You might also wish to consider joining one of the alarm or telecare schemes.
These systems usually have three components: a small radio transmitter or help button (some of these can be worn around your neck); a console connected to the user's telephone; and an emergency response centre that monitors calls. When emergency help is needed, you press the transmitter's help button. It sends a radio signal to the console, which automatically dials one or more pre-selected emergency telephone numbers. Most systems can dial out even if the phone is in use or off the hook. Most systems are programmed to telephone an emergency response centre where the caller is identified. The centre will try to determine the nature of the emergency. Centre staff also may review the person's medical history and check to see who should be notified.
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