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HealthInfo Canterbury

Reducing your risk of falling

Important

If you, or a family member has fallen and is injured, phone 111 and ask for an ambulance.

Many falls are preventable. Some of the actions you can take to reduce your risk of falling are below.

Strength and balance exercises

The most important kind of exercises you can do is the kind that improves your 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 general practice team 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 factsheet.

Visit your general practice team for a check up

Your general practice team will make sure you don’t have a medical condition that will make falling more likely, such as low blood pressure or a urinary infection. They'll also check if you're eating well and keeping active.

Your general practice team 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 general practice team can discuss with you if it's appropriate to stop or reduce any of your medications. Read about Safe medication use for more information about medications.

Have an eye check with your general practice team 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.

Make your home safe

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

Here are some quick tips:

See this home safety checklist 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 general practice team 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 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. See Alcohol & older people for more information.

Consider your footwear

Older people 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 updated October 2022.

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