Anyone can experience a fall. However, as you age, your risk of falling increases. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to minimise those risks.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has produced a useful guide on living well at home.
If you have already experienced a fall, it is advisable to contact your GP.
- Find a form of exercise that works for you: Taking regular exercise will help to maintain good muscle strength, balance and co-ordination, which reduce your risk of falling. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities, dancing, sports, tai chi or yoga, there is something out there for you. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact Active Rutland. Age UK also offers advice on how to get active when you don’t know where to start, including information on the different types of exercises you could consider undertaking, and they also run some exercise groups themselves.
- Build strength and balance: If you want to work on your strength and balance at home, the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Falls Prevention Group, NHS Inform, and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have all produced easy to follow videos which guide you through some simple exercises.
- Steady Steps classes (on hold during the pandemic) are held at the Oakham Enterprise Park, Oakham Fire Station and Inspire2tri in Manton. This is a 24-week exercise programme for over 65s, designed to improve balance and stability.
Have regular health checks: Some health conditions and medications affect your balance. Have regular check-ups so any issues can be picked up before they cause a fall.
Choose the right shoes: Walking in socks or tights isn't as safe as wearing shoes or slippers. Make sure your footwear fits well and try to avoid narrow or high heels, open backs and worn soles, which can make you slip or stumble. Well-fitting footwear can also help to reduce joint pain.
Look after your feet: If your feet are painful, you could make an appointment with a Podiatrist. If you have a health condition that affects your feet, such as diabetes or poor circulation, speak to your doctor or nurse. Age UK also provide useful advice on healthy feet.
Nutrition: Eat healthily and regularly. Don't go for long periods without a meal and stay hydrated.
Manage your medications: If you take regular medication, ensure your take it as prescribed. Let your pharmacist or GP know if you are experiencing side effects such as dizziness, light headedness or drowsiness as they may need to check the dose or consider alternatives. If your medications change and you are not sure which medications you should still be taking, contact your pharmacist or GP to clarify.
Take care of your eyes and ears: Vison and hearing play a vital role in balance and movement, so having your eyesight and hearing tested can help reduce the risk of a fall.
- Eye care
- Get your eyes checked and glasses reviewed at least every 2 years, or more often if your optician recommends. Eye tests are free on the NHS if you meet certain qualifying criteria.
- Some opticians offer home visits if you find it difficult to travel due to health reasons.
- If you do wear glasses, make sure they're kept clean and intact.
- Ear care
- If you feel your hearing has deteriorated, tell your GP. Some problems such as a build-up of wax or infection can be easily treated or, if no medical cause can be identified, you may require a referral for a hearing test.
Look after your bones to minimise the impact: You can keep your bones healthy and strong by eating calcium-rich foods, getting Vitamin D from sunlight and doing weight bearing exercise. Weaker bones are more likely to break if you fall, stronger bones could mean your injuries are less serious.
Know how to get up from the floor: Should you fall, knowing how to get back up again safely could help to minimise the impact. This knowledge could also enable you to help someone else who has fallen.
Ensure a safe home environment: Follow this advice to reduce falls risks around your home.