Falls in the home are very common amongst the elderly. Most falls are preventable and are not a natural part of ageing. Many older people will hide their falls as they fear interference and losing their independence.
However, if they were assisted to take simple steps to help themselves much pain, hospitalisation and injury could be avoided.
We hope that older people, their carers and families, find this guide useful.
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- A good fastening, good support and a sturdy sole are the most important things to consider when buying shoes and slippers.
- Trim your toenails regularly, a foot file can make this easier. File or cut straight across and not too short and not down at the corners as this can lead to in-growing toenails.
- If you are having problems with your feet you can discuss this with your doctor. You may then be referred for NHS chiropody or podiatry treatment.
- Falling is not an inevitable part of ageing. Improve strength and balance by joining local exercise classes or other activities; find out more by visiting better.org.uk and selecting your postcode.
When visiting older people in their homes be aware of potential hazards, a simple home safety check can establish the risks.
- Do they wear old, worn out or loosely fitting slippers?
- Are there trailing cables, trip hazards or loose mats?
- Is the lighting adequate especially in hallways and on stairways?
- Does the older person use a stool to change a light bulb or take down curtains?
- Do they have banisters or handrails where they need them?
- Do they need a shower seat or a non-slip bath mat?
- Does the older person take regular exercise – would they like to?
- Do they take medications and how often do they review this with their GP or local pharmacist? Older people usually take more than one medication which can increase the risk of falls due to the side effects of drugs. Arrange for them to visit their GP or local pharmacist for a medication review which should ideally be every six months.
- How often do they have their eye sight tested? Arrange for them to have their eyesight checked regularly. Anyone over 60 is entitled to a free NHS funded eye sight test at their local optician.
- Do they have a ten year ‘toast proof’ fire alarm? You can request a free Home Fire Safety Check and smoke alarm from the local fire brigade. They will come to the person’s home to advise on exit routes in the event of fire and will fit a free smoke alarm if necessary
Facing up to falls
Watch this short film on falls prevention.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) runs Lifeline – a freephone helpline – which can offer advice on a wide range of safety topics, including falls prevention, older drivers and fire safety. Lifeline is open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, on 0808 801 0822.
Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.