Staying safe from falls

As you get older, your body becomes more likely to develop health conditions that may result in a fall, if you’re not extra careful. Muscles, eyesight and hearing may deteriorate, and you may be taking medicines, which can all contribute to the risk of falling.

Wearing badly fitting or worn shoes, having foot problems and things in the home such as loose rugs, trailing wires and other trip hazards, all make falls more likely. Download our Fall Stop Leaflet here. It has lots of tips on staying safe from falls and local contact numbers for organisations who can help you.

If you fall and break a bone, you may find that you won’t be able to cope with living in your own home. It makes sense that you reduce your risk now, so read on for more help and support, and you can it will guide you to getting the right help to stay independent. You can find more information and advice on the Council’s preventing a fall page.

Stay Strong Stay Steady community falls prevention classes are available across the county, use this link for more information and a great video about how the programme can help you or phone Age UK Somerset on 01823 345626.

You can also find some useful information about preventing falls on the NHS website

Preventing a fall

If you are not very active you are likely to have poorer balance and weaker muscles as you get older.

Did you know that if you are active you are less likely to have a fall, and less likely to break bones if you do fall? Download our Fall Stop Leaflet here. It has lots of tips on staying safe from falls and local contact numbers for organisations who can help you.

Be physically active every day, don’t sit for long periods; get up and walk around. Even gentle exercise like walking can make a difference and some activity classes are especially designed to help improve your balance and strength, for example Tai Chi.

Stay Strong Stay Steady community classes are available across the county – click here to download the Leaflet. For information about activities and classes in your area or contact Age UK Somerset.

If you have concerns about your balance or if you are having falls speak to your doctor, it’s important to get support to stay independent. You can also contact Somerset Partnership’s Integrated Rehabilitation Service.

Things to think about

Medicines

  • Some medicines can make you feel faint, dizzy, sleepy or unsteady. If you have any concerns contact your pharmacy or doctor for advice.
  • If you are over 65 your doctor should review your medicines at least every year

Foot care

  • Foot problems or ill-fitting and worn-down shoes put you at greater risk of losing your balance
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes, possibly with Velcro fastenings, and avoid loose slippers
  • A chiropodist or podiatrist can help make sure your feet are healthy

Eyesight

  • Poor eyesight can lead to slips, trips and falls, especially in poor lighting
  • Have your sight checked every year
  • Make sure all areas of your home are well lit will help prevent accidents

Balance and dizziness

  • Standing up quickly may cause dizziness due to a drop in blood pressure
  • If you feel dizzy when you sit or stand make sure you get up slowly
  • Drink regularly to keep well hydrated
  • Ask your doctor or practice nurse to check your blood pressure and your medicines

Concentration and memory

  • Poor concentration and memory problems can put you at risk of a fall
  • Poor appetite or not eating properly can affect your concentration and memory
  • If you are worried about having a fall, this will affect your concentration
  • Talk about your worries, or fear of falling, with a relative or friend
  • Your doctor can check for any underlying reason for poor memory or concentration

Frequent or urgent visits to the toilet

  • Rushing to the toilet can lead to a fall
  • Don’t be embarrassed if you have problems with your bladder – talk to your practice nurse or doctor
  • Not drinking enough can make problems worse
  • Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol, which aggravates your bladder
  • Talk to your doctor if you have bowel problems or changes to your bowel habits
  • At night, always turn on a light if you get out of bed, or leave a light on
  • If you have a community alarm wear it at all times

Walking and mobility aids

See our section on walking and mobility aids on the next page.

Find more information to help you on the NHS Falls page

Getting in and out of a chair

There is equipment that can help you get in and out of a chair safely. A good place to start to find out what might be suitable is the AskSARA website.

If you can’t get up from a chair easily or without help, an occupational therapist can go through each stage of the movement with you until you can get up on your own with confidence.

They may suggest that you need a special chair.

If you have a choice which chair to use, try one with extended arms and a non-padded, rounded area where you can get a good grip and support yourself as you stand.

It might also be helpful to find a chair with space under the front, which will allow your feet to get a better upward thrust when you’re trying to stand.

When you’re getting into, or out of a chair, take your time, you will be less likely to fall.

Don’t use a walking frame to help you get up, this is not what they are not designed for and may tip over.

You can find more information and choices by searching for services and products.

Equipment to help you

There is a wide range of equipment available that can easily be used in your home to make life easier and help you remain independent. These things could be a stair rail, raised toilet seating, equipment to help in the bath or shower, or items to help you prepare and eat food and drink, loop systems to support hearing, magnifiers to support reading.

You can buy equipment from local shops and suppliers. There are voluntary organisations and private providers who sell equipment for disabled people. You can look through the different menu options on the left.

Visit the Independence Advice Centres (IAC) for advice on equipment. You can speak to someone about your options and ‘try before you buy’. To make an appointment call 0300 123 2224 or email adults@somerset.gov.uk

Food and drink equipment

There are suppliers who can help you get equipment to prepare meals and drinks safely in your own home. Please search our Community Directory.

You can find more information to help you on these web pages;

Equipment around the house – Ask Sara
Direct Payments

Social care occupational therapy

An occupational therapist can give advice about equipment and alterations to your home to help you and your carer manage more easily.

The Council may be able to help you with equipment if you:

  • live in Somerset
  • have difficulty managing everyday tasks due to physical disability or illness
  • are a carer

You can buy some equipment from local shops that might help you. There are also some voluntary organisations and private providers who sell equipment for disabled people.

If you are considering minor or major adaptations to your home because of a disability, please see our page about Disabled Facilities Grants.

You can ask for an occupational therapy assessment by phoning Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.

For more information please see the information sheets below and the occupational therapy equipment page on the Council website.

You can also find advice on the occupational therapy page on the NHS website.

Independent occupational therapy advice

You can visit an Independent Living Centre, where you can get advice from an independent occupational therapist. You will be able to try out equipment and get advice about what to buy.

Or, you could ask a private occupational therapist to come and see you in your own home.

The College of Occupational Therapists provides a search resource to support people who want to employ an Independent Occupational Therapist. Search here

For general enquiries phone 0845 129 7699 (available Monday to Friday during office hours)

Email: enquiries@cotss-ip.org.uk

Independent Living Centres

ILC Semington
St Georges Place
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 6JQ
Phone 01380 871007
www.ilc.org.uk

Disabled Living Centre
The Vassall Centre
Gill Avenue
Fishponds
Bristol
BS16 2QQ
Phone 0117 965 9353