Keeping mobile and preventing falls
There's a lot you can do to maintain your mobility and independence as you age. You can take steps to improve safety and prevent falls.
Most at risk
About one third of people over 65 fall each year, with higher rates for over 75s.
Up to 20 per cent of falls require medical attention. Falls make up half of the hospital admissions for accidental injury, especially hip fractures.
Half of the falls reported by older people follow a trip or an accident. Some 90 per cent of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
Around 50 per cent of falls are preventable.
Assessing your level of risk
There are things to look out for that can help you, your family or carers know whether you are at risk of having a fall. To find out what the risks are, you can ask for a falls risk assessment at your GP's surgery or at a specialist clinic.
The falls assessment aims to discover anything that might cause you to fall and highlights specific things that can be done to help.
Following the assessment, the doctor or nurse will prepare a plan for you to help reduce your risk of falling in future.
You should ask your GP for more information if you think you need an assessment.
Health and social care assessments in your local area
The health and social care trust in your area can tell you more about health and social care assessments.
- Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
- Northern Health and Social Care Trust
- South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
- Western Health and Social Care Trust
- Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Make your home safer
There are changes you can make at home that will help you to prevent falls, like installing hand rails to keep you steady in the bathroom or out in the garden.
Some trusts offer a 24-hour community alarm service. The service provides help and reassurance in an emergency to people who are elderly and at risk of falls. You can keep your alarm with you at all times as a pendant around your neck or on your wrist.
If you fall you press the button on the pendant to activate a separate alarm unit. This alarm unit has a powerful microphone and loud speaker, letting you talk to a member of staff who will get help.
You might also consider the option of sheltered housing, where you maintain your independence but have background support when you need it.
Keeping yourself steady
To stay firmly on your feet, a few simple changes - like making sure stairs are kept clear and well lit - can make all the difference and keep you mobile.
You will benefit if you:
- maintain healthy feet
- regularly review your medication
- have regular eyesight tests
- pay attention to home safety
- enjoy a healthy diet and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent falls, as well as making you more confident and able to enjoy life.
Safe and steady video
Watch the following video to learn more about measures you can take at home to prevent falls.
What to do if you have a fall
Try not to panic, but get help by making a noise like banging or shouting, using your personal alarm or dialling 999.
- make sure you keep warm, even just by tensing your arm and leg muscles
- wrap yourself with anything warm to hand
Afterwards, it's important to tell your doctor what's happened - that way you can receive effective help.