Falls prevention advice

Take small steps to stay on your feet

Trips and falls are not an inevitable part of getting older. Here are five easy things that you can do to stay on your feet.

Get checked out top to toe

If you can see what's around you and where you're going, it is easier to move around safely. Get your eyes tested every year - this is free on the NHS. You may already wear glasses, but this doesn't mean that they are still the best fit for you now.  If your vision changes don't wait - go and see your optician as soon as possible.

If you notice a change in your hearing talk to your GP. Many high street pharmacies also offer free hearing tests.

Wear shoes and slippers that are comfortable and fit properly. Walking around indoors in socks or bare feet can increase your chance of falling, so wear shoes inside.  Sore feet, long toe nails and poor circulation can make you less steady on your feet. Go to your GP or local podiatrist to get your feet checked out.

If you take prescription medications, your GP and local pharmacist should review this regularly. You may no longer need to take all of them, or the dose might need to be changed.  Check if you can drink alcohol while taking your medication. If any of your prescriptions make you feel faint or drowsy, check them out with your GP. Remember that over the counter medications can have an effect on other medications you are taking. Tell the pharmacist what other medications you are taking.

Calcium keeps bones strong

As you get older your bones become thinner. It is important to keep your bones strong, as there will be less chance of them breaking if you do fall. One of the ways you can do that is eat a well balanced diet full of calcium. Foods that contain calcium include

  • dairy products - low fat is just as good
  • green leafy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage
  • soya beans and tofu
  • nuts
  • bread
  • fish where you eat the bones, like sardines.

Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to keep bones strong. You should get most of the vitamin D you need from natural sunlight. Try to spend some time in the sun each day during the summer, but be careful not to get sun burn.  If it is difficult for you to get out and about, you may want to talk to your GP or pharmacist about taking a supplement.

Stay Active

Even if you haven't exercised for many years, staying active has many benefits. It helps strengthen muscles, bone and improves balance which reduces the risk of falling. Types of exercise you can do include

  • walking
  • gardening
  • dancing
  • yoga
  • tai chi.

Your local leisure centre will have more information about groups and classes that are happening in your area.

You can find out more about groups and classes in your area on the Edinburgh Leisure website.

Clear your way at home

It is important to check your home for anything you might trip over or bump into, such as rugs, loose carpets, low level furniture or items lying on the floor. Low lighting can also make it difficult to see where you're going. A friend, relative or neighbour may be able to see things that may be a risk, so ask them to help.

If you are not able to carry out small jobs in your home, you can contact a local care and repair service. They will do things such as change light bulbs and tack down carpets.