Falls and fall-related injuries are a common problem for older people, with the seriousness often overlooked. AgeUK report that ‘around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year’ and this number is seen to increase with 1 in 2 over 80’s falling annually.
Whilst falls don’t always cause serious injuries, individuals can often be left feeling nervous, and experience a loss of confidence in day to day activities. This can leave individuals with feeling as though they’ve lost areas of their independence.
We have put together some important information on how to prevent falls and what to do if you or someone you know has a fall:
How to avoid a fall
There are many risk factors within the home environment that can often be overlooked that could cause a fall, here’s a list of a few examples to be mindful of when checking your house for risks:
- How is the lighting? Do you have good lighting in particularly high risk areas such as the stairs? Would a torch by your bedside help if you had to get up in the night?
- Are any of your rugs or carpets frayed or the corners turned up? Do you use any non-slip matts under rugs or matts? These might be particularly of use in areas such as the kitchen or bathroom.
- Do you have a non-slip matt in the bath? How about a fitted handrail?
- Keep walkways and stairs free from clutter or items you may trip over! Pets can also be a trip hazard. Hand rails on stairs can also be really beneficial.
- Mop up any spills immediately to avoid slipping.
These are just a few examples of risks. Taking a walk around the house to spot any risks could help prevent an accident. Although they may seem small, it could be vital in minimising risk of injury. If you have concerns about your vision, contact your GP or local optician for support.
What to do if you do fall
Keep calm! If you feel able to get up and are not injured, make sure you do so slowly. Try using furniture to assist you such as a bed, sometimes rolling onto your hands and knees can make it much easier. Give yourself time to recover from the shock – sometimes a sweet cup of tea can do wonders! Make sure you give yourself time to get over the incident before you continue with your daily tasks.
If you do injure yourself or don’t feel able to get up- try calling for help, bang with your hands on the wall or floor, if you can reach an object try that. Ideally, try to reach a telephone and call 999 (this might be useful to think about in terms of always carrying a charged mobile in case of accidents). Use your aid call button (if applicable).
When you are waiting for help try to stay warm, are there any blankets in reach? If you able to, try to change your positions every 30 minutes until someone arrives to help you.
Why is this important to know?
You might not be at risk of a fall yourself, but your neighbour may be. Has your neighbour recently fallen or been in hospital because of a fall? Once someone has had a fall, they are more likely to fall again the future. Falling can knock confidence in day-to-day activities and can lead to isolation from factors such as fear. Could you make contact with your neighbour who has had a fall previously and pass on your number in case of emergency.
You could use our Know My Neighbour postcards to make contact if that felt more comfortable, these can be picked up at the following places: https://knowmyneighbour.org/2016/05/10/hello-neighbour-postcard-collection/
If you are concerned or suspect that a neighbour may have had a fall, maybe you haven’t seen them for a few days or the curtains aren’t open, then do not hesitate to contact the police on 999. They can make a visit check everything is ok.
Please see below further information and guidance that might be useful to you!
Get Up and Go is a brilliant booklet all about how to prevent falls – both for those who are themselves at risk of falling, and those who want to help prevent others from falling.
Watch this video to find out how to test whether you or a loved one are at risk of a fall:
Please see this video from AgeUK about how to reduce your risk of falling:
Find out more about falls: