Avoiding slips, trips and falls

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1 Avoiding slips, trips and falls An information guide on how to avoid falls in the home. Reference No. AS13/ Berkshire East Primary Care Trust

2 Many older people trip, slip or fall, and falling can badly affect a person s quality of life. This booklet provides advice on how to avoid falls so that you can: Be Safe Be Careful Be Independent Keep your body active looking after yourself Many falls and fractures are preventable and not an inevitable part of ageing. Falls often occur not because you are getting older, but because you may have weakened muscles and poor balance. A good way to make your muscles stronger and to improve your balance is to take regular exercise. Some good forms of physical exercise are: Walking Light gardening Keep fit classes Swimming Before you start Speak to your doctor first if you are not used to taking physical exercise. Then: Start gently (Don t over do it) Build up slowly Don t try to do more than you feel comfortable with page 2

3 Don t give up Don t stop taking exercise because you have had a fall or because you are afraid of falling. If you do this, you may make it even more likely that you will fall. Keep your bones healthy Make sure that you eat plenty of calcium (Milk, cheese and yogurt) and vitamin D (meat, sardines, tuna and oily fish). Most of the vitamin D we need comes from sunlight on the skin. You may need to take more vitamins if you do not eat these foods or you do not get very much sun. YOUR BONES As we get older, broken bones caused by a minor bump or fall (fragility fractures) are likely to be due to osteoporosis. Ninety per cent of people who break their hip do so following a fall. If you have already had a fall, or have any of the following risk factors for osteoporosis, speak to your doctor about treatments to strengthen your bones: Long-term use of corticosteroid tablets such as Prednisolone Early menopause (before age 45) Testosterone deficiency in men Low body weight or have a very slight build Smoking Previous fragility fracture page 3

4 Treatments may include: Diet advice Weight bearing exercise programmes, for example walking, dancing, keep fit and Tai Chi Calcium and Vitamin D supplements Bone strengthening medication such as Alendronate watch what you wear You may be more likely to slip or trip if you are wearing: Slippers that are loose or have no back Sandals Shoes with heels Long or flared trousers Clothing that trails along the ground Remember not to walk on slippery floors in socks or tights. You may want to have a podiatrist come and see you. keeping an eye on your health Wear the right glasses Have your eyes tested regularly, at least every two years. Eye tests are free to the over 60 s and you may not need to pay full price for your glasses. Do you need glasses for reading and for distance? If you do, it is best to have two separate pairs of glasses. Bifocals or vari-focals are not as safe. page 4

5 Keep Steady Do you have to take four or more kinds of medicine? If you do, ask your doctor to check them regularly. Let the doctor know if your pills are making you feel dizzy. Don t drink alcohol when you are on medicine. The mixture can make you dizzy and cause you to lose your balance. Do you have arthritis in the spine or neck? If you do, you need to move your head slowly. Leaning your head back or turning your head too quickly can make you dizzy. Enquire with your doctor if you can have a flu jab. Flu is an illness that can make you less steady on your feet. Take care of your feet, and check that they have no sore areas. Make sure that your feet are comfortable, whatever you wear on them. Let a friend or neighbour know if you are feeling unwell. making your home safer You can make small changes to your home and cut down accidents. You could: Fit a letterbox cage to save bending down Put 100 watt light bulbs in your kitchen and stairways so they are brightly lit Use long life bulbs so you do not have to change them too often page 5

6 Paint the outer edge of steps with non slip white paint. Not having any rugs is best, but if you want to have rugs use a non-slip mat under them and avoid having them on stair landings, and inside and next to the bathroom. Have handrails by the toilet and bath and on the stairs Make carpets safer by repairing or removing any frayed edges Take the casters off any furniture that you use to lean on or hold on to. cut down the risks in your daily life When you get out of bed Getting out of bed, or getting up from a chair you have been sitting in for a long time, can be a problem. If you stand too quickly, your blood pressure can drop suddenly. This can make you light headed. Try to stand up in slow stages. When you get up from a chair, try to tense your arms and legs a few times first. A wedge pillow will raise the head of the bed and make it easier for you to get out of bed. Avoid becoming dehydrated as that can also contribute to a fall. When you go to the toilet in the night Don t use a torch if you need to go to the toilet during the night. Turn on a light or use a night light. Hold on to something secure if you need to bend. page 6

7 think about ways to make your house safer Make sure there are no wires or other clutter on stairs or places where you walk. See if you can get someone else to change curtains or light bulbs for you. Store things you use a lot in places you can get to easily. Spread salt or sand on wet or icy steps. Mop up any spills as soon as they happen. If you are going to use steps to reach something, make sure they are non-slip with a safety chain and handrail. other things to think about More telephone extensions around the home will stop you rushing to answer the phone. Cordless ones are particularly useful as you can leave the handsets in convenient places. A personal alarm system can be a comfort to you and your family. Find out more about these systems by ringing Maidenhead & District Housing Association, Repair With Care, telephone Try to keep your home warm. Cold muscles work less well and may lead to accidents and injuries. If you have a pet, fit a brightly coloured collar and a bell, so that you can see and hear it more easily and are less likely to trip over it. page 7

8 if you have a fall Try not to panic - don t move if you feel pain or know that you have hurt yourself If you can get up Ease yourself up onto your elbows Move onto your hands and knees Hold onto a firm surface to support you Facing the chair ease yourself to a standing position Turn yourself gently and sit on a firm surface If you can t get up Can you attract attention? Shout and bang something Press your pendent alarm Use the telephone if you can Can you get comfortable? Find a nearby: Pillow Cushion Rolled up item of clothing to put under your head page 8

9 Can you keep warm? Cover yourself with clothing, Tablecloth Rug Can you keep moving? Move position to avoid getting pressure sores Move joints to avoid stiffness and help circulation Roll away from a damp area if your bladder lets go After a Fall A lot of people have problems after they fall, even when they have not hurt themselves. This is because they lie on the ground for a long time after falling and this long lie can lead to hyperthermia and pneumonia. Tell your G.P., Nurse or Health Professional about your fall getting more help Tell your doctor about any falls you have. He or she will be able to tell how the problem can be treated. Your Adult Social Care Team can provide advice on: How to prevent falls Equipment that can help you What your welfare rights are What benefits you are entitled to page 9

10 useful contacts Windsor & Maidenhead Council website Tel (switchboard) or (Access Team, Adult Care Services) Age Concern Windsor & Maidenhead Age Concern Information Line Tel Dis:course Tel Financial Assessments & Benefits Team Tel NHS Direct Tel Windsor & Maidenhead PALS Tel Carers helpline, Princess Royal Trust Tel Princess Royal Trust Carers Service Tel Berkshire East Primary Care Trust King Edward Hospital, Windsor Tel National Osteoporosis Society Tel Berkshire East Falls Specialist Nurse Tel Repair with Care Tel: Crown House, Crown Square, Waldeck Road, Maidenhead, SL6 8BY - page 10

11 how to contact us You can contact the Adult Services for advice and support, we are here to answer your calls from 8.45 to 5.15 Monday to Thursday and 8.45 to 4.45 Fridays Please Telephone us on You can us at or visit our website If emergency help is required when the office is closed the Emergency Duty Team can be contacted on page 11

12 If you need the information contained in this booklet in larger print, audio tape or other languages please contact Learning & Care on and we will be happy to help you. TRANSLATION If you would like this document translated into your own language please write to us giving your full contact details. Windsor & Maidenhead Adult Services, York House, Sheet Street, Windsor, SL4 1DD Tel:

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