Looking after yourself
Whatever your age, regular physical activity – even gentle walking – improves your chances of keeping healthy, even though it might not directly cut your risk of falling. It’s never too late to take up some new activity (for example, swimming, dancing, tai chi) and this can help you feel happier, fitter, more alert and independent. Its’s always best to start any new activity gently and gradually build up the amount you do. Your GP /Physiotherapist can give advice about this, and may be able to refer you to our exercise classes run by trained, experienced instructors.
Some older people have physical problem – such as poor balance or muscle weakness – that increases their risk of having a fall. Research has shown that older people who’ve had falls and do exercises specially chosen to tackle their physical problem are less likely to fall again during the next few years. Again, your GP/Physiotherapist may be able to give you more information about this and refer you to our services.
Keeping socially active with friends and family is important. Making sure you have something to look forward to may take some effort but it’s very good for morale.
Many falls happen during everyday activities at home, such as going down stairs, getting on or off the bed, or walking to the bathroom.
A safer home helps to reduce your risk of falls.
- Use the brightest bulb that’s safe for the light fitting.
- Don’t leave anything on the landing or stairs.
- Consider having a handrail installed on both sides of your stairs.
- Don’t carry anything so big or heavy that you feel unsteady or can’t use the handrail.
- If using a walking aid, is one available upstairs and one downstairs.
- Think about having a grab rail installed by the bath and toilet.
- A rubber mat in the bath with help prevent slips.
- Be aware of wet slippery floors. A fitted carpet is less slippery than vinyl flooring or loose mats.
Our occupational therapist can advise and help you with these changes. Here are some other ideas:
- Use a bedside light when getting up in the night.
- Get carpets and rugs fixed down smoothly and securely.
- Wherever possible, avoid having electric cables or slippery things (such as magazines) on the floor.
- Arrange furniture so that it’s not in your way.
- Watch out for chairs and sofas on wheels or castors.
- Choose shoes with thin soles and non-slip heels. Shoes with thick, spongy soles, such as trainers are ideal because they may reduce how much your feet can feel on the ground. Sandals, slippers and loose shoes may also make you more likely to trip.
- Sometimes falls are linked to having poor eyesight. So it’s worth keeping your glasses clean and your prescription up to date, (remember, eye tests are free for the over 65s)
- A walking stick may help boost your confidence. Ideally, you should be given advice about the right type of mobility aid from our physiotherapist. If you don’t like the idea of always carrying a stick when you’re out, think about getting a fold-away version. And leave one at places around your home where you’d like some extra support.
Easy does it
You should take care not to get up too quickly. For example, take your time getting out of bed – try sitting on the edge of the bed for a minute or so before standing up. If reaching above your head makes you unsteady, try to get someone else to do household jobs, such as changing a light bulb. And it may be sensible to rearrange your cupboard so that everyday objects are at a height where you don’t have to reach or bend awkwardly for them.
Think about so many paid and free services available in the Milton Keynes from Age UK Phone: 01908 550700.
Are your medicines right?
Older people are often taking a variety of medicines, including some prescribed by their GP and others brought from a shop or over a pharmacy counter. While certain medicines can be essential, some individual or combinations of medicines can increase the risk of falling.
If you’ve had a fall, it’s crucial your doctor or pharmacist know exactly what treatments you take – including any medicines you buy without a prescription and any herbal remedies. They can then advise if any aren’t needed or the doses are too high or low. You may find it helpful to keep a list of all your medicines. It’s also sensible to tell your doctor about any side-effects you have. If you have a routine health check (recommended for anybody aged over 75), it’s worth taking all your medicines with you to show your doctor/pharmacist.
Falls can be dangerous, particularly if you live alone. So it’s a good idea to know how to get help when you need it. Keeping the contact details of your relatives and doctor by the phone is useful for emergencies. And, of course, you might be able to ask a relative, friend or neighbour to pop in, or ring you, every day to see if you need help with anything.
If there’s a chance that you might fall over without anybody at hand to help, you may want to get a ‘community alarm’. This is a call button, either worn as a pendant or bracelet, or as a pull cord or button on your telephone. It connects straight to a 24-hour service that can send help in an emergency.
For more details, contact Milton Keynes Community Alarm and Telecare services on 01908 222616.