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Health Matters - Falls Prevention

Falling or the risk of falling can be a worrying thing for many people. If you have fallen in the past, making changes to reduce your chances of having a fall can also help you overcome any fear of falling.

You may be reluctant to seek help and advice from your GP and other support services about preventing falls because you believe your concerns won't be taken seriously. However, all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person's health.

Discuss any falls you've had with your GP and say if it's had any impact on your health and wellbeing. Your GP can carry out some simple balance tests to check whether you're at an increased risk of falling in the future. They can also refer you to useful services in your local area.

Here are a few tips to prevent falls in the home:

  • clear up spillages straight away
  • remove clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
  • use non-slip mats and rugs
  • use high-wattage light bulbs in lamps and torches so you can see clearly
  • organise your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
  • get help to do things that you're unable to do safely on your own .

Doing regular strength and balance exercises can reduce your risk of having a fall. This can take the form of simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes. 

If you're taking long-term medication, your GP should review your medicines at least once a year to make sure they're still right for you. It's particularly important that your medicines are reviewed if you're taking four or more medicines a day. Your GP may recommend alternative medication or lower doses if they feel the side effects increase your chances of having a fall.

You should make an appointment to have a sight test if you're concerned that poor vision (even when wearing glasses) is increasing your risk of having a fall. 

You can request a home hazard assessment if you're concerned that you or a relative may be at risk of having a fall, or if you know someone who has recently had a fall.

Fitting a personal alarm system may also be recommended, so that you or your relative can signal for help in the event of a fall. An alternative would be to keep a mobile phone within reach so it's possible to phone for help after having a fall.

For more advice visit the NHS choices website nhs.uk/conditions/falls/prevention/

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