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HealthInfo Canterbury

Falls

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Falls are a common cause of injury, hospital admission, and even death in people of all ages, but especially in older people. Falls can cause major disability, loss of independence, and can make people feel isolated.

Risk factors for falls

You have a greater risk of falls the older you get. The rate of falls increases from the age of 65 years, but you may also be at risk if you:

What you can do to reduce your risk of falls

Many falls are preventable. Some of the actions you can take are below.

Visit your GP for a check up

Your GP will make sure your blood pressure isn't too low and check your eyesight. They'll also check if you're eating well and keeping active and ask about any medications you're taking. Talk to your GP if you're worried about falls or if you've had a fall.

Your GP may review your medicines, particularly if you're taking four or more medicines a day. Medications can interact with one another and sometimes this can contribute to falls. Sometimes, you may no longer need a medication, or may be taking it at doses that give side effects that could cause a fall. Your GP can discuss with you if it's appropriate to stop or reduce any of your medications. They may suggest using the Medication Management Service to review your medications. Read Safe medication use for more information about medications.

Have an eye check with your GP or optometrist if you haven't had your vision checked in the last two years. Make sure you wear the right glasses for the situation, such as only wearing your reading glasses to read. Bifocal glasses may increase your chances of falling. Discuss this with your optometrist.

Strength and balance exercise

The most important kind of exercise that you can do is the kind which improves strength and balance. Building up strength and balance protects older people from falling and reduces the harm that can happen if they fall.

You can search for a community strength and balance class on the Live Stronger for Longer website. If your GP or other health professional thinks you're at risk of falling they're likely to refer you to a Falls Champion through the Falls Prevention Programme. Your Falls Champion will guide you through the best way to build up your strength and balance. For more information, read this brochure.

Make your home safe

It's important to make your home environment safe by keeping it clear of clutter or anything you could trip on.

Here are some quick tips:

See this home safety checklist from ACC to identify hazards in your home. If you work through this list with a family member you may be able to identify hazards that you can remove. Your GP may recommend a home safety check if your vision is poor.

Limit alcohol

As people get older, they become more sensitive to alcohol. This means that you may feel the effects of alcohol more than when you were younger. Falling may be one of these effects. Reducing how much alcohol you drink will help to lower your chance of falling.

Consider your footwear

Older adults are more prone to problems with their feet. Wear safe and well-fitting shoes and slippers. Choose non-slip soles. Don't walk on slippery floors in socks or tights.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2019. Last updated October 2019.

Sources

See also:

Disability aids

Page reference: 48264

Review key: HIFAL-31777