Step Up and Stay Up
The Avery Falls Prevention Programme provides information to residents and families to take positive actions to reduce the risk of falling.
Falling is not an inevitable part of getting older and can be prevented. A fall can affect a person’s physical well-being and impact psychological and social well-being too. The fear of falling can then result in avoiding activity, leading to social isolation and increasing frailty.
Through our Step Up and Stay Up campaign, we are working proactively together to prevent falling. During September, we will be walking a total of 500 miles across the group, with staff, residents, relatives and visiting professionals donating their steps. Click to see how many miles we have achieved so far!
Falls Prevention: What factors do I need to consider?
You may need to consider a range of factors when reducing the risk of falling to help increase confidence and support independence.
It is natural for someone to feel worried about falling, especially if they have previously fallen or have difficulty with balance. While many falls do not result in significant injuries such as fractures, they can decrease a person’s confidence and lead to a reduction in their usual daily activity. There is a range of factors to consider to reduce the risk of falling, increase confidence and support independence.
Hazards in the indoor and outdoor environment can impact moving around safely. Internally these may include items left on the floor, poor lighting, worn carpets or loose rugs, positioning of furniture and abandoned walking aids or equipment. Externally many factors can present a danger, such as wet or icy surfaces, loose stones or gravel, uneven paving and discarded items. Being in unfamiliar surroundings, indoors or outdoors, can also impact the ability to move around safely.
When You Need to Move Quickly
A frequent need or a strong urge for the toilet is often associated with falling due to rushing, with some continence medicines also causing dizziness. Adequate hydration, a proactive toilet routine (regularly accessing before the urge to go), and using continence products as appropriate can remove some of the causes of falling. Supportive measures such as pelvic floor exercises may also help to improve the pelvic floor muscles and reduce incontinence.
Foot Health and Footwear
Good foot health and properly fitting footwear can also play a vital part in reducing falls, ensuring good foot health and footwear will support stability and should include:
- Trimming toenails regularly; keeping feet clean and dry, especially in between the toes
- Checking for cuts, blisters and sores; applying moisturiser to dry skin
- Filing dry or hard skin using a file or pumice stone
- Making sure footwear is suitable (for either indoors or outdoors), well-fitting and not loose, comfortable and securely fastened (especially slippers)
- It is recommended that podiatrists or chiropodists should be regularly consulted to support foot health and function
Physical Activity and Mobility
Taking part in daily physical activity will keep muscles and bones strong to help maintain balance and movement; even small amounts of exercise can help reduce the risk of falling through different types of activities such as daily walks, dancing, gardening, keep fit exercises or swimming. Assisted technology may help to reduce the risk of falling, and pendant or personal wristband alarms can be used to call for help if people are not well or have fallen.
When moving around, go at your own pace and take your time. Here are some other handy tips:
- When getting up from a seated position, hold onto the arms of the chair and make sure that weight can be transferred evenly onto both feet on standing
- Before starting to walk, take time to get your balance
- Equipment can help with moving around safely and independently, and if using a walking aid, make sure it is within easy reach before getting up and use it to support standing up
- Use grab rails in the bathroom and handrails along corridors wherever possible
- When walking, take steps of similar length and lift feet clear of the floor
- Taking seated rest breaks along the way to manage energy and not get tired
- Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists can complete assessments to determine if personal mobility aid (walking stick, frame or wheeled walking frame) would be beneficial
- Check any equipment for wear and tear and that all is in good working order
Eating and Drinking
A nutritionally balanced diet, including vitamin-rich food, can help promote good health. This supports maintaining a healthy weight and helps keep muscles strong and bones and joints supple.
Drinking plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks is important for good health and can help prevent some of the problems that increase the risk of falling, such as dehydration, tiredness, feeling light-headed and fatigue.
Too much alcohol can cause drowsiness and a decreased perspective and spatial awareness, which can reduce judgement and increase the risk of falling.
Hearing and Vision
Hearing and vision loss can increase the risk of falling due to impairment of the senses that affect balance and vision, so it is important to have regular hearing and eye health checks. Hearing aids should be regularly checked to ensure that they are working properly and fitted correctly so that they can be relied upon.
Wearing the correct type of glasses and keeping them clean improves balance and stability and reduces the risk of falls.
Medication and Health Conditions
Certain types of medication or a recent change in medications can cause side effects, which may increase the risk of falling. Side effects could include becoming drowsy or dizzy, experiencing light-headedness, impaired vision and being able to think clearly.
Taking more than four medicines at the same time can increase the likelihood of some side effects and thus falling. Therefore, it is important to be aware of and act on such associated reactions.
Previous or current health conditions can affect the potential for falls, such as postural hypotension (when blood pressure drops on standing up too quickly) or the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Our infographic provides a helpful overview of factors to consider as we work proactively to prevent falling: