As we get older, certain medical conditions, medications, and changes to our bodies can put us at risk of falling. Older people are more likely to experience a fall, whether at home or out and about. In fact, according to the NHS, around one in three adults over 65 will have at least one fall a year. Therefore, it's important to do whatever you can to reduce your risk of falling. With this in mind, we're sharing our top 5 ways to prevent falls at home.
1. Assess Your Home
When it comes to preventing falls at home, the first step is to assess your surroundings. The main reasons for falls at home include balance issues, muscle weakness, and sensory problems. Assess your home room by room, looking out for areas and items that could cause you to fall for any of these reasons. These could include loose rugs or carpets, dimly-lit areas, or items that you need to reach for.
A high proportion of falls occur in the bathroom. Therefore, it may be a good idea to install grab rails around the bath and shower and next to the toilet. This is a simple, affordable way to prevent falls at home.
If you aren't sure what to look out for as you assess your home, ask a family member or neighbour to come and help you. Your doctor may also be able to arrange a professional home assessment for you. Make sure you are having regular check-ups with your GP and talk to them about your concerns.
After assessing your home, you may decide that it's time to downsize or move to a bungalow. Just like the bathroom, the stairs are a common site for falls at home. A bungalow eliminates that risk altogether.
2. Remove Hazards & Take Action
You've completed your home assessment. Now it's time to remove any hazards around your home. In most cases, this just requires a few simple changes which will be easy and inexpensive to make. Removing these hazards will automatically reduce your risk of falling at home, helping you stay safe and independent. Here are some examples of hazards in the home and how to fix them:
- If you have any rugs in your home, make sure to secure them firmly in place. Use double-sided carpet tape to make sure your favourite rug is not a tripping hazard.
- If necessary, reorganise your kitchen cupboards so that the items you use most are within easy reach. Make sure you don't have to stretch up too high or bend too low on a regular basis.
- Install grab rails in the bathroom to prevent falls. In addition, fit a rubber mat on the floor of your bath and/or shower. Bathroom surfaces can easily become very slippery - grab rails and rubber mats help to reduce your risk of falling in the bathroom.
Remember, if you're struggling to move around your home safely, it may be time to move house.
3. Help with Mobility
If you are struggling with your balance and general mobility in your home but you don't want to move house, don't despair. There are plenty of products that can help you live safely and prevent falls at home.
For lots of older people, the main obstacle is the staircase. Whether you're having balance issues or you simply get out of breath, using the stairs can be hazardous. Everyone should have handrails or bannisters on both sides of the stairs. Make sure these are installed securely at elbow height - and make sure you hold onto them every time you use the stairs.
For those who need some extra help using the stairs, a stairlift is the perfect solution. These devices allow you to take a comfy seat, press a single button and relax as the lift carries you up and down the stairs. Of course, a stairlift is a big investment, but you shouldn't let the cost put you off. Contact your local council to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant. This is a government grant which can help you pay for your stairlift and other home adaptations. You can also buy reconditioned stairlifts, which are often much more affordable.
Similarly, there are plenty of mobility aids for the bathroom. These include bath steps, shower seats, and a raised toilet seat.
4. Assistive Technology
As the UK's population ages, technology continues to develop. Nowadays, there are plenty of helpful devices which can keep elderly people safe and independent. Lots of this assistive technology can help to prevent falls at home.
Rushing around the home is one of the biggest causes of falls; you're less likely to pay attention to where you're going if you're in a hurry. Think of situations where you might need to rush: when someone knocks at the door, or when a pot is boiling over on the stove, for example. Nowadays, you can attach a camera to your front door, with the footage coming through to your mobile device. This means you'll have no need to rush to see who's at the door - most devices let you speak into your smartphone to tell the person outside you are coming.
Stove alarms are great for people who may be forgetful. They work by learning how you use the cooker (to prevent false alarms) and sounding an alarm when the temperature rises but before a fire ignites.
You might also feel the need to rush to get to the telephone in time, but make sure you take your time moving around the house. Did you know that your Lifeline alarm can be programmed to answer the landline phone simply by pressing your pendant button?
5. Prevent Falls at Home by Planning Ahead
It may be that right now you're medically well and don't struggle with your balance around the home. However, as the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. It's far better to start thinking about how to prevent falls at home now, rather than waiting until a fall occurs. The fact that you're reading this article is a great sign - it means you're ready to take action and keep yourself safe at home.
After assessing your home for fall risks, you might identify a few hazards that could be fixed. Even if these changes aren't needed right now, they might become necessary soon. Be proactive and fix these problems before they become even more dangerous.
One of the most effective ways to prevent falls at home is to stay active. Regular exercise can improve your balance, coordination, and muscle strength, all of which are crucial for preventing falls. Furthermore, you should go for regular eye tests, stay hydrated, and wear shoes that fit well and have sturdy, gripping soles.
Stay Safe At Home with a Personal Alarm
By taking these simple steps to prevent falls at home, you'll not only be protecting yourself. You'll also be helping to reduce strain on the NHS. Falls cause the vast majority of hip fractures among the elderly. Hip fractures and related care cost the NHS more than £2 billion every year.
The tips we've shared today will help you prevent falls at home. However, we know that accidents still happen. Therefore, it's important to have a plan in place in case you do fall. Lifeline alarms are an affordable and reliable way to protect yourself at home. If you have a fall, you'll be able to press a button on your Lifeline pendant. This will raise an alert with our Emergency Response Team, who will arrange help for you straight away.
For more information regarding our life-saving personal alarm service please get in touch by giving our friendly team a call on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, you can send an email to email@example.com and we'll respond as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 27th April 2022 to reflect current information.
A 2017 study by the NHS found that there are around 255,000 fall-related emergency hospital admissions involving over-65s every year. That's almost 700 every day. Falls can result in serious, sometimes lifechanging, injuries. In this article we look at the leading causes of falls in the UK and identify some ways of addressing them.
Falls Amongst the Elderly
Unfortunately, falls are particularly common amongst over-65s. One in three are likely to have at least one fall a year. This figure increases to one in two amongst over-80s. Due to their age, adults aged 65 or over are also more likely to be seriously injured. In some cases, falls can also result in death.
Falls can also have a negative impact on mental health. Over-65s may worry that they cannot live independently. However, falls are not an inevitable part of getting older, and steps can be taken to avoid them.
Leading Causes of Falls
There are many causes of falls to be kept in mind. Some are triggered by medical conditions, others are environmental. Both can be addressed and prevented if identified.
Many of us have likely experienced moments of dizziness whilst moving around the home. Sometimes you may wobble as you turn a corner. On occasion, these momentary lapses in balance can result in a fall.
Poor balance can be caused by any number of things. Often, though, it will be as a result of weakened muscles or a health condition. Stroke and Parkinson's Disease are two major causes of poor balance. However, even something as minor as an inner ear infection could impact your balance.
Blackouts and Fainting
When you have a blackout or faint, your body partially shuts down. This places them amongst the leading causes of falls. You may notice that you've had a blackout or fainted if you suddenly find yourself on the floor. In most cases you won't know how you ended up there.
If you have a history of blacking out or fainting, you are more likely to experience an episode again. Certain conditions also increase the likelihood of a blackout or faint. These include diabetes and atrial fibrillation.
Older age can often be accompanied by the loss of some senses. If your sight is beginning to suffer, it can become more difficult to move around. It can affect your awareness of potential trip hazards or how close an obstacle is.
Living with poor vision can make it easier to miss steps when going down the stairs. Similarly, reduced spatial awareness can result in balance problems, as outlined earlier. If you have diabetes, you may experience sight loss.
Some medications can contribute to the causes of falls. They may affect your blood pressure, for example, increasing the possibility of dizziness or fainting. Alternatively, they may make you drowsy, which can impact how you move around the house.
However, keep in mind that your medication is necessary for your wellbeing. If you feel that your medication is increasing your risk of a fall, speak to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch your medication to alleviate this risk.
Sometimes our home can present obstacles to our wellbeing. Electronic cables and upturned rug corners can become trip hazard. If you are having mobility problems, narrow walkways may affect how safely you can move around. A coffee table in the wrong place, for example, could result in a fall.
Keeping your home tidy and walkways clear can reduce your risk of falling. Take steps to eliminate clutter. Move or cover trailing wires; reorganise your furniture so you have less objects to walk around; tape down the edges of your carpets.
Nearly 200,000 accidents occur in bathrooms every year. This is largely because the bathroom is home to more slippery surfaces. Regardless of age or health conditions, slips on wet floors are amongst the leading causes of falls.
Staying safe in the bathroom isn't always easy. However, steps can be taken to improve safety. This includes fitting non-slip mats in the bath and on the floor. You can also consider fitting handrails to aid with supporting yourself.
Working at Height
Whilst over-65s may be less likely to work at height, this doesn't mean you never do it. Keeping active and motivated in later life, and sometimes this means doing work around the house. Maybe you're cleaning a window or clearing out the gutters.
Unfortunately, working at height comes with risks. It's no surprise that it is one of the leading causes of falls. Slower reflexes amongst over-65s can make it difficult to recover if a ladder wobbles, which may result in a fall. Some health conditions could also make it more dangerous to work at height.
Reducing the Risk of Falls
Now that you know some of the leading causes of falls, it's important to take steps to reduce the risk. If you think you have a health condition that increases your likelihood of falling, you should consult your GP. They may be able to recommend medication or exercises that can provide additional support.
Exercising, in particular, can help you build strength in your muscles. This will help you remain steadier on your feet. Similarly, a healthy diet can keep your bones strong and reduce the likelihood of fatigue.
Finally, you should keep your home tidy and make modifications to assist with your mobility. Grab rails and ramps can drastically improve ease of movement around the home.
Extra Support from Lifeline24
We recognise that falls can happen to anyone. Even if you have taken steps to reduce the possibility, bad days can still strike. When they do, it can be reassuring to know that help is available. A Lifeline24 alarm allows you to request support at the press of a button.
When your alarm is activated, it sends a call through to our 24/7 Response Team. They will then arrange help for you by alerting your emergency contacts. These may be friends, relatives, or neighbours. In appropriate cases, they will also alert the emergency services.
If you feel you are at increased risk of falling, we recommend our fall detector package. It works just like our base alarm but will also activate automatically if it sense you have had a fall.
To find out more about the Lifeline24 alarm service, read our quick guide. To find out more about how our alarms can promote your independence at home, get in touch with our helpful customer service team. Call us on 0800 999 0400 or fill in our contact form today.