The importance of preventing a fall and avoiding serious injury

As people get older it’s not unusual that they become unsteady on their feet and even though falling is quite common it can lead to serious injury and affect confidence.

There are a lot of things that can be done to tackle this, including simple at-home exercises and making home adaptations.

Dr David Levy, medical director at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “A lot of slips, trips and falls actually happen around the home so making a few simple changes can make your home a much safer space.

“One change could include removing any loose rugs or mats that you may have at the top or bottom of your stairs as these can be a trip hazard. Another home adaptation would be installing a night light near your bed so if you get up in the night you can see where you’re going. A motion-activated light which would only come on as needed wouldn’t disturb your sleep and would be helpful, especially in bathrooms and by the stairs.

“Having a look around your home and spotting potential hazards would also help, so keep an eye out for anything that could cause you to trip, like cables and clutter, and make sure you remove it. I also like to advise people to avoid any clear glass furniture as it can be harder to see.”

Having a relative, friend or neighbour to ring if a fall occurs means help can be accessed quickly so it’s recommended to always have a personal alarm or mobile phone close by.

If someone has a fall, the NHS advice is to remain as calm as possible – trying not to move too suddenly and taking a few minutes to check for any pain or injuries.

Staying warm is also vital to avoid hypothermia, so using a blanket or clothing and moving gently is advised, however if anything feels painful, then stop.

Dr Levy added: “As we get older, we become frail and a fall can result in a much more serious injury, like a fracture, which takes a lot longer to recover from than when we were younger. Many falls are preventable and simple home adaptions can help prevent a trip to hospital.

“If you have had any kind of fall, whether you hurt yourself or not, make sure you tell your GP and they can look at helping to prevent it from happening again.”

A few other things people can do to reduce the risk of a fall:

  • Taking part in exercise as muscle strength and balance reduce as people get older.
  • Regular sight and hearing check-ups as this can impact balance and cause a fall or trip.
  • Ensuring shoes and slippers fit properly and have grips on them.
  • Avoid walking around the house in socks, tights or even bare foot.

For further information on prevention of falls visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/falls/.

To access an NHS video on how to do a few simple exercises at home visit: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/winter. The video is available in seven different languages.

 


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