We’ve put together some information on falls including what to do if you fall and how to help prevent them.

What to do if you fall

  • Having a fall is often a shock. Take a moment to get your breath back and orientate yourself before you try to move.
  • Check the area for any items you may have dropped and broken as you don’t want to move and hurt yourself more.
  • If you’re not hurt you may want to try and get up from the floor. Think about how you’re going to do this in stages, moving so you’re near a stable piece of furniture, such as a  chair first; then onto your hands and knees before getting up.
  • If you’re hurt or unable to get up, you should summon help by using a pendant alarm, banging on the wall, calling for help or crawling to the telephone.
  • Roll or wriggle to a soft surface, such as carpet.
  • Keep warm by covering yourself with clothing or a table cloth. Keep moving and warm by regularly rolling or moving positions to avoid pressure sores, stiffness and to help circulation.
  • If you need to empty your bladder, use a newspaper or item of clothing to soak up the urine then roll away from the damp area.
  • Tell your GP about the fall so that they can find out why it happened.

How to reduce the risk of falls

This is general advice to help you to reduce your risk of a fall. Always follow professional medical or healthcare advice you’ve been given and don’t delay asking for professional help with falls.

To help you reduce the risk of falls:

  • Make sure your home is well lit and free of clutter.
  • Never leave items on the stairs.
  • Make sure your home is free from trip hazards such as rugs, frayed carpets or trailing wires.
  • Fit handrails and grab rails where needed on stairs, steps and in the bathroom.
  • Keep items that you use within easy reach to avoid bending and climbing.
  • Don’t rush to answer the door or telephone.
  • Turn on a light when getting out of bed at night.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bath.
  • Arrange furniture so that it won’t fall over.  Remove castors from chairs to make them more stable.
  • Use walking aids provided.
  • If you have a community alarm, wear it and check it monthly.
  • Take care with clothes that trail such as dressing gowns and trousers.
  • Try to ensure that your steps, stairs, footpaths and driveways are kept clear of clutter and rubbish. Wet leaves on a footpath can make the surface very slippery.
  • Leave space to move safely round furniture.

  • Take regular exercise, even if this is only a short walk, to keep muscles strong and joints supple.
  • Do any exercises that you’ve given to improve your strength and balance. Don’t exercise if you’re are ill or just after eating. Increase exercise gradually.
  • Speak to your doctor or another health professional if you experience pain you haven’t before.

  • Make sure your shoes and slippers fit well. Footwear that protects and supports your foot with non-slip soles is recommended.
  • Fastenings like velcro will help secure your feet and make footwear more secure when you walk.
  • It’s advisable to wear shoes or slippers indoors as they provide better grip and protect the foot from injury.
  • Have your toenails cut on a regular basis.
  • Check your feet for injury and swelling. If you have painful feet seek professional advice.

  • Some medicines can increase your risk of falling, but it’s important that you don’t stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first.
  • Ask your GP or pharmacist to review your medications. Ask about the side effects and the best way to take the medication.
  • Follow the instructions for each medication you take.
  • Take tablets with a glass of water.

  • Sometimes blood pressure can drop when you change position. This can happen if you move too quickly particularly when getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Take extra care when getting out of bed or if you’ve been sitting for a long period. Move your arms and legs before sitting up and again before standing.
  • When you stand up, count slowly to three before moving away from furniture to make sure that you don’t feel dizzy. Walking on the spot before moving away from furniture can help.
  • Sit down if you feel lightheaded or dizzy.

  • Swollen ankles and swollen feet are common and are not usually cause for concern, particularly if you’ve been standing or walking a lot.
  • You need to discuss the swelling with your GP for a diagnosis and treatment which can help.
  • You may be advised to raise your legs on a stool, if you do, you need to ensure that you protect your heels so they don’t become sore.

Exercises like the one described below can help to pump fluid back up your legs:

  • Sit upright, hold on to the side of the chair and straighten your left leg with your foot off the floor
  • With your leg straight and raised, point your toes away from you
  • Point your toes back towards you
  • Try two sets of ten exercises with each foot.

  • Increase your daily intake of calcium and vitamin D (dairy produce, and tinned boned fish and sunlight).
  • Regular healthy meals help to keep up strength and vitality.
  • Try to include 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day:  these contain important vitamins and minerals, fibre and anti-oxidants; starchy foods (such as bread or rice) for energy; milk and dairy foods provide calcium for bones; 2 portions of protein-rich food (such as meat, poultry, eggs or lentils) every day. Avoid eating too many treat foods such as cakes and biscuits.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to ensure the functioning of all the body’s organs, 1.5-2 litres a day unless otherwise advised (variety of hot and cold drinks). Not drinking enough fluids may result in low blood pressure and increase the risk of falls.
  • Tea and coffee can be decaffeinated (caffeine irritates the bladder and prevents absorption of vitamins and minerals).
  • You can also fruit such as melon, grapes, apples and nectarines - which are mainly water – as part of your 5 portions a day.
  • Foods such as soup, jelly, gravy, custard, ice cream, milky cereal and milky porridge also help to increase fluid intake.
  • You may need to consider how much alcohol you drink each day/week. Alcohol can make you unsteady and alter how some medication works.

  • Clothing that’s too long can be a trip hazard. You should also take care to ensure that laces and belts aren’t trailing.
  • It can be safer to get dressed sitting down, including when pulling items over your head.

  • Walking aids can help to improve your balance and make you feel more confident.
  • If you’ve been provided with a walking aid, it’s important to use it. Don’t be embarrassed if it helps you stay steady.
  • Check walking aids for signs of wear, for example, brakes and the rubber (ferrules) at the base
  • Avoid using furniture to help you walk.
  • Make sure your walking aid is the correct height. The height of the handgrips should be at the level of the wrist bone when your elbows are very slightly bent (at an angle of about 15°).

  • Take care of your vision. Bifocal and varifocal glasses can make some people unsteady, especially on stairs or slopes as they can make it difficult to judge steps.
  • You may be better with separate glasses, one set for reading and another for other activities.
  • You need to remember not to walk when wearing your reading glasses.
  • Wearing sunglasses can help to reduce glare on sunny days.
  • Clean your glasses daily.

Please contact your GP if you feel you need to be assessed by a member of our Falls service team. They can refer you using the referral form sent to: ealingcommunity.referrals@nhs.net.