Falls Among the Elderly

Information about falls and how they affect older people

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This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

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    As we get older falls can affect us more. They can cause more serious injuries and leave a lasting emotional impact. Around 1 in 3 people aged 65+ and half of people over 80 will have at least one fall a year.

    Why Are Older People More Likely to Fall?

    As we get older we are more likely to fall, due to normal changes of ageing.

    Elderly people are more likely to fall because of:

    • Balance problems
    • Muscle weakness
    • Vision loss
    • Health conditions that can cause dizziness

    Common Causes of Falls

    In certain situations, falls are more likely to happen. For example, older people are more likely to slip during winter than summer. This is because of the high levels of rain and ice during the winter months that make pathways slippery.

    Falls are more likely to happen if:

    • Someone is rushing or walking fast
    • Floors are wet or spillages haven’t been cleaned up
    • Pathways have obstacles or are cluttered
    • Rugs or carpets are not fitted firmly to the ground
    • Reaching for objects out of reach
    • Using unsecured equipment such as a ladder

    Fall Prevention Techniques

    There are numerous ways you can decrease your likelihood of falling. Home adaptations, clothing and exercises can all work to keep you more stable on your feet. Fall prevention best starts with a tidy and hazard-free living space.

    Other prevention techniques include:

    • Keep your home clutter-free – A tidy home means there are no obstacles on your floor or hallways to trip you up. Also having home objects stored in organised and easy to reach places means you don’t have to climb ladders to reach things.
    • Install grab rails around your home – You have a higher chance of slipping in the bathroom compared to other rooms. Installing grab rails in your shower, around your bath and toilet will help keep you stable whilst moving around. Grab rails are also good if you struggle to get in and out of bed.
    • Use non-slip mats – Non-slip mats grip your floor so you are less likely to trip over them and they won’t move under your feet. They are good for non-carpeted floor ways to give you more grip.
    • Wear shoes when moving around the house – Socks tend to be slippery, especially on hard flooring. Shoes with a good grip will make slipping less likely and you can also get shoes that support your ankles to keep you more stable. For comfort, you can get socks with grips on the bottom.
    • Avoid very loose clothing – It’s important to wear comfortable clothes but very baggy clothes can sometimes trip you up and make you more likely to fall. Wear trousers that fit the length of your leg well and don’t interfere with your feet or touch the ground.

    Stay Healthy to Prevent Falling

    The right diet can improve your bone strength meaning if you do fall you are less likely to fracture or break a bone. Also, if you aren’t consuming enough food you are likely to be weak and become dizzy which will greatly increase your risk of falling. Exercises also help improve bone strength and muscle strength which improves your balance and reduces the chance of injury if an accident does happen.

    To prevent falling focus on:

    • A diet that promotes bone health
    • Exercises for healthy bones
    • Sit to stand exercises
    • Balance exercises

    Emotional Impact of a Fall

    A fall can leave you with anxiety, depression and lower your confidence. You may become isolated as you are worried to leave the house and stop doing activities you enjoy.

    No one should suffer from these feelings alone. It is important to talk to someone, this could be a friend, family member, carer, GP or another health professional. If you have a carer they can work with you to build your confidence up again by providing support, encouragement and motivation.

    Getting your confidence back will improve your quality of life and increase your independence, so you can get back to living life to the fullest.