Stay safe on your feet

Every year in England more than 220,000 people ages over 60 have a fracture as a result of a fall – that is more than the entire population of Warrington having to experience the distress, pain, loss of confidence, and much worse as a result.

Falls can be costly, to both the wider health and social care system, and to individuals.

One in 10 older people become too afraid even to leave their home in case they fall again.

Due to an aging population, the number of people over 65 will increase by 44% in Warrington by 2043; this means that unless we do something, more people will suffer more falls.

Yet AGE UK estimates that one in four falls are preventable – plus there are a number of simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of falling.

Risk factors

A number of things can increase the risk of falling, including:

  • Certain types of medication
  • Taking four or more medications
  • Medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Previous falls history
  • Reduced confidence
  • Infections such as urinary or respiratory
  • Poor sight or hearing
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Poor nutrition and diet
  • Poor balance or walking difficulties
  • Ill-fitting footwear
  • Hazards around the home, such as poor lighting, cluttered furniture, and loose rugs
  • Weak muscles and / or still joints
  • Tiredness

…but some of these can be addressed by looking after yourself.

Top tips to help you stay safe on your feet

  1. Exercise regularly
  • Physical activity improved muscle strength balance, coordination, and flexibility
  • Focus on activities that challenge your balance and strengthen your legs and ankles, including resistance exercises while standing (if possible), rather than chair-based only. Examples include: gardening, dancing, swimming, carrying shopping bags, or going to balance classes
  • Please seek advice / permission from your General Practitioner (GP) before exercising
  1. Having regular eyesight and hearing tests

Regular sight tests and reporting ear pain or difficulties with hearing can identify problems that could affect your balance and coordination, Eye tests are free for anyone over 60. You can discuss any hearing problems with your GP.

  1. Visit your GP

If you have had a fall or are worried about falling, a visit to your GP is a good starting point for advice and help in regaining your confidence.

  1. Check your medication

If you are taking four or more different types of medication, let your pharmacist know if you ever feel faint or dizzy.

  1. Look after your feet

Ill-fitting footwear and problems with your feet, especially anything that causes pain, can affect your balance.

Wear well-fitted shoes and slippers, keep your toenails trimmed and report any foot problems to your GP or chiropodist.

  1. Check for home hazards
  • Make sure your home is hazard-free and well lit
  • Organise your things so that you are not at risk of tripping or falling.
  • Light up your living space and have a bedside light that can be easily switched on.
  • Keep your walk-ways clear of furniture, clutter, loose rugs or trailing wires.
  • Use mobility aids as often as possible rather than holding onto furniture.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bath or shower.
  • Ensure stored items and clothes are in easy reach.
  • Repair any loose paths / walkways.
  • Fit grab rails inside and outside.

Social services (First Response Team) will assess for adaptations such as seat raises and grab rails. They can be contacted on 01925 44 33 22.

Alternatively, the Warrington Home Improvement Agency (WHiA) can provide grab rails for a charge. They can be contacted on 01925 246 812.

  1. Eat well
  • A balanced healthy diet will ensure you get all the essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body and bones health. It will help you to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Important nutrients include calcium, such as: milk, yoghurt, cheese and vitamin D (oily fish, red meats, eggs, sunlight, etc.)
  • Aim to drink plenty of fluids (six – eight cups) and avoid drinking alcohol.

For further information on health diets, please visit: www.nhs.uk/change4life

  1. Seek support for any continence issues

Many older people fall when rushing to the toilet. If incontinence is a problem for you, speak to your GP.

  1. Other things to consider

Let your GP know if:

  • You feel dizzy, have blackouts, or lose your balance as this many need further information.
  • You notice any change in your waterworks or are coughing more frequently with an increased amount of abnormally coloured sputum. This could indicate an infection which may increase your risk of falling.
  • Discuss your osteoporosis risk factor with your GP. Ensure that you manage any existing medical conditions well, as general good health will reduce your risk of falling.

I have had a fall

At the hospital

If you have a fall and are admitted into hospital, you may be visited by many different health and social care professionals such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists during your stay on the ward.

Each professional will carry out their own specialist assessment to ascertain why you have fallen.

Following assessment, you may receive further rehabilitation or have equipment ordered to your home address.

It is also normal for doctors to request additional tests to fully investigate the reason for your falls.

On discharge from the hospital, you may be referred to a community service for on-going rehabilitation, and to ensure you settle back into your home environment safely.

Local resources and contacts

  • First Response Team

The council’s first response team provides a single point of access for all social care needs, offering support to help people live independently within their own home through adaptations.

For further information on what support is available, visit www.warrington.gov.uk or telephone 01925 44 33 22.

  • Age UK (Age UK Mid-Mersey)

Age UK is a charitable organisation that operations to promote and provide older people with a holistic range of health, wellbeing, and care services to allow individuals more choice and control in their everyday lives.

For more information telephone 01744 752 644

  • Warrington community Rehabilitation and Falls Team

This is a referral-only team of therapists and nurses who are responsible for the specialist assessment of people who have had a fall.

For more information, visit www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/warrington/fallsrehabilitationservice or telephone 01925 946 862.

  • Stay on your feet

This is a referral-based exercise programme suitable for those aged 65 or over that aims to:

  • Improve balance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
  • Build the sustained engagement of older people in exercise.
  • Reduce the risk of falling.

The service is run by LiveWire, who also offer a range of health and exercise service, including Reach for Health. For more information on these activities and services, contact LiveWire on 0300 003 0818.

  • GP

If you have any concerns at all, please remember that your GP is here to help.