Q. Who is at risk of falling?

A. A. Everyone! However, the risk increases with age, with roughly 1 in 3 people over 65 falling each year. This increases to 50% of those over 80. This is due to a
variety of reasons including a higher incidence of poor eyesight, higher chance of polypharmacy (being on multiple medications).

Q. What is the cost of falls?

A. There is a high cost to the NHS from falls and the treatment of resultant injuries. However, the hidden costs are in the effect falls often have on an individual's
confidence and quality of life. Even a fall that doesn't result in an injury can cause someone feel less confident and have an impact on their ability to carry out activities
of daily living for fear of falling again

Q. Can all falls be prevented?

A. No. But many falls can be prevented by minimising risk factors

Q. Who holds responsibility for reducing these risks?

A. Everyone!

Q. How can risks be reduced?

A. Proper assessment of each person's risk factors and then appropriate action being taken can help to reduce the risk of falls. For example, checking
the home and tidying away any trailing cables or loose rugs. Even simple things like ensuring glasses are cleaned regularly can reduce the risk of a fall.

Q. I’ve had a fall, but I’m fine. Do I really need to trouble anyone?

A. If you’re under 65 and in good health, no.

If you’re over 65 and in good health and there was an obvious mechanical reason for the fall (ie you tripped over the dog, who got underfoot unexpectedly), no.

If, however, you are over 65 and the reason for the fall is uncertain (or you don’t remember) then yes, you should certainly at least see your GP, even if you
are in good health. Subtle changes may have gone unnoticed and an assessment by your GP may find a cause and prevent further, more serious, falls.

Q. My relative has been having falls and I don't know what to do - who can help?

A. There is a lot of help available. However, accessing useful help depends on the reason for the falls.

Q. Falls due to trips and stumbles 

A. Check the environment, tidy up any trailing cables, clutter, remove loose rugs, and check floor coverings for worn areas , particularly on stairs.

Also check footwear to make sure it is well fitting and supportive. If feet and ankles are prone to swelling, this can cause issues too - ensure the GP is aware of
any swelling and make sure footwear can accommodate this. Usually slippers or shoes with adjustable fastenings (ie velcro) are useful. Consider asking if
a referral to podiatry is appropriate if there are ongoing foot problems.

Sometimes poor eyesight can cause trips and stumbles. Has the person had a sight test in the last year? If glasses are worn, are they cleaned regularly?

If a walking aid is used, it should be checked regularly for wear and tear, especially the rubber ferrule on the end, and replaced as necessary.

Q. Falls due to poor balance

A. Hearing problems can sometimes be a hidden cause of balance issues. Sometimes a simple hearing test may be enough to help.

Poor nutrition can be a cause of unsteadiness. A referral to a dietitian may be required.

A referral to physiotherapy for an assessment may be appropriate if leg strength and balance are poor.

Q. What do I do if they have fallen and can't get up?

A. There are several things you can do. If you can, assist them to get up. If this is impossible, due to them being injured or stuck, then call for assistance.

Reassure the person who has fallen, as they are likely to be embarrassed and feeling shaken. Use anything available, towels, dressing gowns or cushions to keep
them warm and comfortable until help arrives. If they are injured, do not give them anything to eat or drink until help arrives.

If you are worried about someone's safety at home, it may be worth considering a referral to FAIRE, the home safety service, who can provide a variety of equipment
to assist with accessing help.

Q. What can I do to reduce my risk of falling?

Many risk factors can’t be changed (age, for example) but there are many things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Walking/exercising regularly (3 or more times a week) helps to keep good muscle tone and improve stability.

Use of an appropriate walking aid if one has been prescribed.

Take your time when rising from a chair/getting out of bed. Ensure you are steady and safe. For many people who are used to rushing, this can be challenging,
but it is a worthwhile habit to acquire!

Ensure you are taking any medication you have been prescribed correctly, at the right time and at the correct dose.

Watch your diet to ensure you are properly nourished. Speak to your GP about a referral to a dietitian for advice if this is a concern for you.

Review your living space. Ask a friend/relative/carer to look at your home with you for hazards that might cause you to stumble. If you wish, ask for a referral
to the Home Safety Service, who will carry out a check of your home for you. They can make recommendations to make your home a safer place.

Check your footwear. Be aware that some of your shoes may not be suitable any more due to changing foot shape. Ensure they are well fitting and
feel supportive.