There are ways you can reduce your risk of having a fall, including making simple changes to your home and doing exercises to improve your strength and balance.
If you have fallen in the past, making changes to reduce your chances of having a fall can also help you overcome any fear of falling.
How to get help
Some older people may be reluctant to seek help and advice from their GP and other support services about preventing falls because they believe their concerns will not be taken seriously.
But all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person's health.
Discuss any falls you have had with your GP and say if it's had any impact on your health and wellbeing.
Your GP can carry out some simple balance tests to check whether you're at an increased risk of falling in the future. They can also refer you to useful services in your local area.
Avoiding falls at home
Tips for preventing falls in the home include:
- Immediately mopping up spillages
- Removing clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
- Using non-slip mats and rugs
- Making sure all rooms, passages and staircases are well lit
- Organising your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
- Getting help to do things you're unable to do safely on your own
- Not walking on slippery floors in socks or tights
- Not wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
- Wearing well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle
- Taking care of your feet by trimming your toenails regularly and seeing a GP or chiropodist about any foot problems
Strength and balance training
Doing regular strength exercises and balance exercises can improve your strength and balance, and reduce your risk of having a fall.
This can take the form of simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes.
Many community centres and local gyms offer specialist training programmes for older people.
Exercises that can be carried out at home are also available. Ask your GP about training programmes in your area.
It's important that a strength and balance training programme is tailored to the individual and monitored by an appropriately trained professional.
For more information see physical activity guidance for older adults on the NHS website
If you're taking long-term medication, your GP should review your medicines at least once a year to make sure they're still right for you.
It's particularly important that your medicines are reviewed if you're taking 4 or more medicines a day.
Your GP may recommend alternative medication or lower doses if they feel the side effects increase your chances of having a fall. In some cases, it may be possible for the medication to be stopped.
See your GP or practice nurse if you have not had your medication reviewed for more than a year, or if you're concerned that the medicines you or a relative are taking may increase the risk of falling.
Make an appointment to have a sight test if you're concerned that poor vision (even when wearing glasses) is increasing your risk of having a fall.
For more information see Blindness and vision loss on the NHS website
Home hazard assessment
You can request a home hazard assessment if you're concerned that you or a relative may be at risk of having a fall, or if you know someone who has recently had a fall.
A healthcare professional with experience in fall prevention will visit you or your relative's home to identify potential hazards and advise on how to deal with them.
Drinking alcohol can lead to loss of co-ordination and exaggerate the effects of some medicines.
This can significantly increase the risk of a fall, particularly in older people.
Avoiding alcohol or reducing the amount you drink can reduce your risk of having a fall.
Excessive drinking can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
For more information see Alcohol support on the NHS website
For more information see Osteoporosis on the NHS website