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.
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 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.
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
How can I make my home safer to prevent falls?
You can move around more safely at home not only by using appropriate aids and adaptations, but by making sure that hazards are removed. 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.
Use Bluebird Care’s ‘home safety checklist for preventing falls’ to help you and your family find and fix common hazards in your home.
How can I make sure that I have the right equipment and aids?
The secret to reducing the risk of falling is not only moving more, but moving safely. Your 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 for you. There are an 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
If you do not have an occupational therapist, talk to your doctor who can make a referral for you.
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.
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 are the top 10 tips for preventing falls?
Looking after your health is vital to maintaining your independence. There are a number of things that you can do to keep moving and to avoid the risk of falling.
- Eat and drink well
- Keep active
- Use the right equipment and aids
- Move safely around your home
- Keep your home free from obvious hazards
- Avoid slips in the bathroom and bedroom
- Take care when using the stairs
- Make sure you can see clearly
- Be aware of medication side effects
- Seek help when you need it.
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