Why falls occur
Our bodies are intricate and our ability to remain upright depends on a complex range of systems working together. Our eyesight, hearing, muscle strength and balance are some of the body’s functions that keep us standing but there are external factors that can impact us as well including, medication, infections, poor footwear (see falls prevention and footwear leaflets) and environmental hazards. Illness increases these risks with strokes, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis being just a few that can have a significant impact. Researchers have found that over 400 risk factors exist; many of these can be reduced with the correct action. There are a series of short videos under ‘Support videos’ in the menu, if you would like to understand more about risk factors.
Assess your risk
View our Having Falls? leaflet, which has instructions on how to assess your potential risk of having a fall.
The good news is that many falls are preventable and many falls risks can be reduced. If the environment is cluttered, poorly lit or the floors are slippery anyone is more likely to fall. All these can be resolved. If you are concerned that you feel unsteady when you walk then strength and balance exercises done standing up and getting progressively harder will help you feel more balanced. The Trust has a programme of strength and balance classes which has a strong evidence base to help prevent falls.
View our strength and balance exercise class leaflet.
Taking 4 or more medications has been shown to increase your risk of falls. Your local pharmacist can carry out a ‘medication use review’ with you. It is free of charge and they will liaise with your GP if any issues arise; or you can discuss your medication with your GP who will carry out regular medication reviews with you and perhaps change your tablets as necessary.
View our I’m still standing booklet, which includes an action plan to help reduce your risk of falls.
Postural hypotension – Low blood pressure
Postural hypotension is a fall in blood pressure that occurs when changing position from lying to sitting or from sitting to standing.
Are you on several medications? Do you have low blood pressure? Do you get dizzy when you stand up? If so, see our What is postural hypotension? leaflet.
Strength and balance exercises to prevent falls
Research has shown that certain exercises can help to improve strength and balance which will reduce the risk of falling and help people remain independent and active in their daily lives. It is always advisable to talk to your GP if you are considering taking up exercise.
Strength and balance exercise leaflets:
Equipment to reduce falls or avoid a long lie
There is equipment available to help reduce falls. If strength and balance is the issue, it is always worth having an assessment by a physiotherapist, who will be able to advise the most suitable option for you.
If you are thinking of purchasing equipment, the Independent Living Centre on the Brunel Industrial Estate in Newton Abbot can give you help and impartial advice about a wide range of equipment for independent living. They offer a drop in service or individual assessment sessions. For more information, visit the Independent Living Centre website.
There are now a number of technologies that are available to raise the alarm if falls occur and someone is unable to get up. These can help to get help and therefore avoid the ‘long lie’ – the term used if someone is on the floor for longer than an hour. For more information, see Technology Enabled Care (TECS).