Ten top tips for preventing falls

We know that looking after your health is vital to maintaining your independence. Care agencies like Bluebird Care often provide care and support to people following a fall. Over the years we have learnt about the things you can do to keep moving and avoid the risk of falling. We want to help our customers to stay safe, so we have used this experience to create a list of ten top tips for preventing falls. We hope you and your families will find this useful

Read our 10 top tips for preventing falls.

1. Eat and drink well

To avoid medical conditions that increase your risk of falling make sure you receive enough essential nutrients  Eat breakfast every morning: skipping a meal could make you feel dizzy. You could also feel lightheaded if you don’t drink enough fluids each day. You may not always feel thirsty or hungry, so one of our top tips for preventing falls would be to find ways to find ways to remember to eat and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Care agencies like Bluebird Care can help remind you to eat and drink regularly.

It is also a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol because it can make you feel light headed and may affect your co-ordination. Both of which can increase the risk of falling.

2. Keep active

Exercise can improve balance, strength, coordination and flexibility. So, our second top tip for preventing falls is to keep moving, for example walking and swimming. Care agencies like Bluebird Care can offer you encouragement, but it is important to talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional about the type of exercise that would be good for you and follow their recommendation.  A doctor may refer you to support from a physical or occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can visit you at home to discuss an exercise program to suit you that will improve your balance, muscle strength and gait (how you take steps).

Join a local health and fitness centre where you can meet like-minded people and give each other encouragement to exercise regularly. Group activities can be fun. You might benefit from group exercises such as water workouts in a pool or Tai Chi, a gentle exercise that helps reduce the risk of falls. Yoga and body balance classes are also good for posture, flexibility, mobility and balance.

3. Use the right equipment and aids

The secret to reducing the risk for falls is not only moving more, but moving safely. Our third top tip for preventing falls is to speak to your occupational therapist. Or if you don’t have one, ask your doctor for a referral. An occupational therapist can advise you on suitable adaptations for your home to make it safer for you, as well aids to make day to day living tasks easier.  They can give you information  about the extensive range of aids and adaptations to meet a wide variety of needs. Depending upon your circumstances these may be available for loan from the local authority or from specialist suppliers. Some examples include:

  • Walking aids such as a walking frame, stick or ramps;

  • Hand or grab rails to make it easier to get in an and out of a bath;

  • Raised seats for a chair or toilet to help you move between standing and sitting safely;

  • Aids for accessing those hard to reach places when washing or dressing. 

4. Move safely around your home

Our fourth top tip for preventing falls is to take extra care when standing up, reaching or sitting down. Health and care agencies would suggest that when moving from lying down to standing, sit up first and stay sitting a moment or two. Then stand up slowly and stand a few seconds before trying to walk.

When you first wake up, sit on the edge of the bed for a while to fully orientate yourself before you get out of bed. If you are not close to the telephone when it rings, don't rush to it. Fast, sudden moves could throw you off balance.

Always use your recommended walking aids if you are unsteady. Make sure that you (or someone else) regularly checks the condition of any equipment that you use. For example, check that the rubber tips on walking sticks are not worn down.

Try to keep your telephone nearby or an aid call button that you can reach to call for help if you fall. Consider carrying a portable phone.

5. Choose the right footwear and clothes
  • 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 falls.

  • 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.

6. Keep your home free from obvious hazards

You can move around more safely at home not only by using appropriate aids and adaptations, but by making sure that hazards are removed.  Our next top tip for preventing falls is to regularly check for anything that may unnecessarily restrict your movement or that could be a tripping hazard. For example:

  • Don't leave clothes, newspapers or empty containers on the floor or stairs where you may later trip over them.
  • Check that there are no tripping hazards from frayed or loose carpets and rugs, uneven floors etc.
  • Close cabinet drawers so you won't stumble over them.
  • Keep walkways free of clutter and furniture particularly sharp corners.
  • Clean up puddles of water or other spillages promptly to avoid slipping.
  • Take care around pets. They may suddenly move in front of your feet or jump on you.

Care agencies can often spot hazards. Use Bluebird Care’s ‘home safety checklist for preventing falls’ to help you and your family find, and fix common hazards in your home.

7. Take extra care when washing, dressing and using the stairs

Avoid slips in the bathroom, bedroom and on the stairs with our seventh top tip for preventing falls.

  • 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. Care agencies such as ourselves would recommend you talk to your health advisor 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, care agencies or a member of your family could reach you without delay.

  • Arrange clothes in your wardrobes and cupboards so 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 from health representatives about suitable aids such as blocks to raise the height of the bed.

When using the stairs pay special attention to what you are doing:

  • Avoid carrying any package that will obstruct your view of the next step.

  • Keep at least one hand on the handrail.

  • Give all of your attention to moving up and down stairs and try not to be distracted e.g. by conversations or other sounds.

8. Make sure you can see clearly

Top tip number eight for preventing falls is making sure you can see properly.
Always wear glasses if you need them, but remember to remove reading glasses before you walk.

  • Care agencies like Bluebird Care advise having 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.
9. Be aware of medication side effects

Our ninth top tip for preventing falls is to be aware that the possible side effect of some medicines can increase the risk of falls. Taking several different medicines each day can increase this risk and may cause weakness or dizzy spells.

  • Always read the information about side effects that comes with each of your medicines.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects.
  • Ask for a review of your medicines if you are unsure or have not had a review for over a year.
10. Seek help when you need it

Having the right care and support when you need it can help you to live more safely and keep your independence. Our final top tip is to don’t leave it too late to ask for help and advice. At Bluebird Care we can offer a range of flexible care and support services in your home tailored to each customer’s needs and preferences.  

You can find out more about preventing falls from the NHS choices website or from Age UK

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