1 Avoidig slips, trips ad broke hips Be safe Be careful Be idepedet How to avoid falls i the home iformatio for older people Local authority You ca fid your local coucil s telephoe umber i the phoe book. Write it i this box. For local iformatio cotact: Help the Aged is a Registered charity No Prited i the UK o recycled paper with a miimum HMSO score of 75. First published Jauary Departmet of Trade ad Idustry. http//www.dti.gov.uk/ Crow Copyright. DTI Pub 6721/150k/06/03/RP. URN 99/689
2 Older people have a right to expect the highest possible quality of life. Sadly, a lot of older people trip, slip or fall, ad fallig ca badly damage a perso s quality of life. This booklet gives you some simple advice o how to avoid these falls. Lookig after yourself Keep your body active You are more likely to fall if you have weak muscles ad poor balace. A good way to make your muscles stroger ad to improve your balace is to take regular exercise. Some good forms of physical exercise are: Be safe Be careful Be idepedet walkig light gardeig ad housework keep-fit classes T ai Chi classes (but check that the teacher has worked with older people before). Regular exercise is also good for easig the pai ad swellig arthritis causes so is massage. Before you start Speak to your doctor first if you are ot used to takig physical exercise. The: start getly (do t overdo it) build up slowly do t try to do more tha you feel comfortable with. Do t give up Do t stop takig exercise just because you have had a fall or because you are afraid of fallig. If you do this, you may
3 Keep your body healthy Make sure you eat plety of calcium ad vitami D. You fid calcium i milk, cheese ad yoghurt. Try to choose the lower fat versios if you ca. Vitami D keeps your boes strog ad cuts dow the risk of breaks ad fractures. You fid it i meat, sardies, tua ad other oily fish. Most fat spreads ad breakfast cereals have vitami D added to them. Sulight o the ski also produces vitami D. You may eed to take more vitami D if you do ot eat these foods or if you do ot go out very much i the su or remai covered up with clothes. Ask your GP or chemist for advice. Watch what you wear You are more likely to slip or trip if you are wearig: slippers that are loose or have o back sadals shoes with heels flared trousers clothig that trails to the groud. Wear flat shoes or shoes with thi soles or a built-i heel. Do t wear traiers, or shoes like traiers. Ad remember ot to walk o slippery floors i socks or tights. Ask your doctor about uderwear to protect your hips. Hip protector uderwear cuts dow the risk of a fracture if you fall. You should wear it day ad ight. It does ot show up uder your other clothes, ad you ca wash it.
4 Keepig a eye o your health Wear the right glasses Have your eyes tested regularly at least every two years. Eye tests are free to the over 60s. Do you eed glasses for readig ad for distace? If you do, it is best to have two separate pairs of glasses. Bifocals or vari-focals are ot as safe. You may ot eed to pay the full amout for your glasses. Ask your opticia for advice. Keep steady Do you have to take more tha four kids of medicie? If you do, ask your doctor to check them regularly. Let your doctor kow if your pills are makig you feel dizzy. Do t drik alcohol whe you are o medicie. The mixture ca make you dizzy ad ca cause you to lose your balace. Do you have arthritis i the spie or eck? If you do, you eed to move your head slowly. Leaig your head back or turig your head too quickly ca make you dizzy. Ask your doctor if you ca have a flu jab. Flu is a illess that ca make you less steady o your feet. Take good care of your feet, ad check that they have o sore areas. Make sure that your feet are comfortable, whatever you wear o them. Let a fried or eighbour kow if you are feelig uwell. Makig your home safer You ca make small chages i your home ad cut dow accidets. You could: fit a letterbox cage to save bedig dow put 100 watt light bulbs i the kitche ad stairways so they are brightly lit use log-life bulbs so you do ot have to chage them so ofte pait the outer edge of steps with oslip white pait use o-slip mats uder rugs, i the kitche, o stair ladigs, ad iside ad ext to the bath have hadrails by the toilet ad bath ad o the stairs make carpets safer by repairig or removig ay frayed edges take the casters off ay furiture that you use to lea o or hold o to. Cut dow the risks i your daily life Whe you get out of bed Gettig out of bed, or gettig up from a chair you have bee sittig i for a log time, ca be a problem. If you stad up too quickly, your blood pressure ca drop suddely. This ca make you light-headed. Try to stad up i slow stages. Whe you get up from a chair, try to tese your arms ad legs a few times first. A wedge pillow will raise the head of the bed ad make it easier for you to get out of bed. Whe you go to the toilet at ight Do t use a torch if you eed to go to the toilet i the ight. Tur o a light. Hold o to somethig secure if you eed to bed.
5 Thik about ways to make your house safer Make sure there are o wires or other clutter o stairs or places where you walk. See if you ca get someoe else to chage curtais or light bulbs for you. Store thigs you use a lot i places you ca get to easily. Spread salty sad o wet or icy steps. Mop up ay spills at oce. If you are goig to use steps to reach somethig, make sure they are o - slip.with a safety chai ad hadrail. Other thigs to thik about More telephoe extesios aroud the home will stop you rushig to aswer the phoe. Cordless oes are particularly.useful as you ca leave the hadsets i coveiet places. A aswer machie might be eve better. A persoal fall alarm system ca be a comfort to you ad your family. Fid out more about these systems by rigig Age Cocer s Iformatio Lie (see the back of this leaflet). Try to keep your home warm. Cold muscles work less well ad may lead to accidets ad ijuries. If you have a pet, fit a brightly coloured collar, so that you... ca see it more easily ad are less likely to trip over it. If you have a fall, try to......get help Try ot to paic if you have a fall. Do t move if you feel pai or kow that you have hurt yourself. Try to attract attetio. Bag o the wall or floor to get your eighbour s attetio. Use your persoal fall alarm system if you have oe. Phoe the emergecy services, or a eighbour, fried or relative....get up A lot of older people have problems after they fall, eve whe they have ot hurt themselves. This is because they lie o the groud for a log time after fallig ad this log lie ca lead to hypothermia ad peumoia. If you caot get ayoe to help you, try to use furiture to help yourself up. Crawl to a sturdy chair. Use the chair for support, ad get up from your kees. Sit o the chair for a while before you stad up....keep warm If you caot get up o your ow you eed to keep warm, tese your leg ad arm muscles regularly ad fid a coat, jacket, tablecloth or aythig else to use as a blaket. After a fall You should tell your doctor about ay fall. You should certaily tell them if you were uable to get up off the floor o your ow.
6 Gettig more help Tell your doctor about ay falls you have. He or she will be able to tell how the problem ca be treated. Local coucils care ad repair schemes ad Age Cocer will give you advice i private o: how to prevet falls what your welfare rights are what beefits you are allowed What about broke boes? These services may also help you pay for safety equipmet ad some will do a free check of your home for safety ad security. Help the Aged, Age Cocer ad some local authorities will give moey to some older people to help them buy a fall alarm. As we get older, broke boes caused by a mior bump or fall [f ragility fractures] are likely to be due to osteoporosis. Niety per cet of people who break their hip do so followig a fall. If you have already had a fall, or have ay of the followig risk factors for osteoporosis, speak to your doctor about t reatmets to stregthe your boes: log term use of corticosteroid tablets early meopause [before the age of 45] testosteroe deficiecy i me low body weight or have a very slight build smokig previous fragility fracture Useful cotacts If you have ay problems makig cotact with social services or volutary groups, ask a family member or a fried to help you. Help The Aged Seior Lie Help The Aged Moday to Friday from 9.00am to 4.00pm A free atioal advice service for older Petoville Road people ad their carers. Lodo Will give you advice o welfare ad disability rights, housig ad N1 9UZ commuity care. Age Cocer Iformatio Lie Freepost (SWB30375) Seve days a week from 7.00am to 7.00pm. Ashburto A free helplie for older people ad Devo their carers. TQ13 7ZZ Will give you iformatio o moey, health, commuity care, housig, trasport, heatig, educatio ad other issues. Research ito Ageig A atioal medical research charity. Petoville Road Aims to prevet the major causes of disability i later life ad to improve the Lodo treatmet of older people. N1 9UZ Will sed booklets ad videos o exercise if you make a doatio to the charity. Natioal Osteoporosis Society Moday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm Helplie for iformatio o osteoporosis...prevetio ad treatmet. To order more copies of this leaflet please call