How to prevent a fall

 You may be at risk of falling if you have:

  • Long term (chronic) health conditions, like heart disease or dementia
  • Low blood pressure which can cause dizziness and brief loss of consciousness
  • Impairments such as poor vision or muscle weakness
  • Conditions that can affect balance, like labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear)
  • Certain medication can cause drowsiness, confusion or light-headedness particularly if taken in combination with other medication

However, there's a lot you can do to help prevent yourself or someone you care for from having a fall.

  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water – milk, cheese and leafy greens contain calcium which strengthens your bones. Get vitamin D from being out in the sun and from eating oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals. Dehydration can make you feel dizzy so make sure you get plenty to drink
  • Have a medication review - ask your local pharmacist to make sure you understand why you are taking your medication, and how to take it to best effect. If you are having problems with your medication see your GP
  • Get your eyesight checked - and if you have glasses make sure you wear them and keep them clean
  • Have a hearing test - hearing loss and ear problems can affect your balance
  • If you drink alcohol, reduce how much you drink – our ability to break down alcohol reduces as we get older. Alcohol combined with medication might make you feel unwell or make you lose your balance
  • Keep active – try to walk half an hour each day. Exercise helps maintain strength, balance and co-ordination. Look for local groups that offer activities like tai chi, pilates, bowling, etc.
  • Remove trip hazards – if possible have fitted textured flooring which isn’t shiny or slippery. Avoid loose rugs, frayed carpets and remove trailing cables from your floors. Have enough light at home to see properly. Keep a nightlight and a torch handy, in case the lights fail
  • Get essential repairs done - arrange for essential repairs such as replacing a light bulb or fixing a curtain rail if these might cause a fall. You might be able do get this done using the Handyperson Service. Or you can use Trusted Trader to find reputable local businesses
  • Stop slips in the shower or bath - non-slip stickers can help prevent falls. Some hair and body products make surfaces slippery, so take care when using them. Mop up any floor spills
  • Steps and stairs - consider hand rails for steps and stairs, or in your bathroom. Don’t stretch, over-reach or climb to reach anything. Try to have your bed and chair at a height that is easy to stand up from
  • Check your shoes and slippers - make sure these are comfortable and snug, and have a non-slip sole. Avoid wearing shoes with heels
  • Walking sticks and walking frames - these should be at the right height for you and you should keep them close by. Replace the rubber end-cap (ferrule) when it is worn

Have a plan in case you fall

It's a good idea to have a falls emergency plan, in case you do fall. Ask someone to help you write it if you need to. Your plan could include:

  • Knowing who you can call to help you, and how to call them
  • Keeping your mobile phone with you at all times, if you have one
  • Thinking about whether you should have a call alarm which you could use to get help 24/7 if you fell and could not reach the telephone

Advice and information from Norfolk's Living Well

Norfolk's Living Well have produced some slides which provide information and advice on how to prevent falls in older people, and those with dementia.

Download the slides here