(Updated 21/07/2023)

A fall may be defined as “an untoward event” which results in a patient coming to rest on the ground or other surface.

Everyone can be at risk of having a fall, but older adults are more vulnerable than others. This is mainly due to long term health conditions that can increase the chances of having a fall.

What to do if you fall:

If you have tripped, slipped or fallen before, you may be more likely to fall again. However, many falls can easily be prevented so that you can continue to stay strong, steady and independent.

How to get up safely after a fall:

The Up and About Plan:

If you are not hurt, the Up and About Plan is one of the safe ways to get up after a fall.

  • Roll onto your hands and knees and crawl to a stable piece of furniture such as a bed, stool or chair.
  • Use your hands to support you, place one foot flat on the floor and bend your knee in front of your tummy.
  • Lean forward and push on your feet and hands until you bring the other foot to be beside the first.
  • Turn and sit on the bed, stool or chair. Rest for a while before moving off.
  • If you fall regularly it is recommended that you ask for a physiotherapist assessment to identify the most appropriate way to get up.

What to do if you can’t get up after a fall:

Try not to panic if you have a fall. You should wait for help if you feel pain or if you’re unable to get up on your own.

The Rest and Wait Plan:

  • Try to summon help – Use a pendant alarm if you have one, bang on the wall, call out for help, or crawl towards the telephone.
  • Move to a soft surface – If you have fallen on a hard floor, try to move to a carpeted area.
  • Keep warm – Try to reach for something to cover yourself with and try to move out of any draughts.
  • Keep moving – Do not lie in one position for too long, as you may suffer from pressure sores or get cold.
  • Roll from side to side and move your arms and legs, if possible.
  • Toileting – If you need to empty your bladder while on the floor, use a newspaper or item of clothing to soak up the wet, and try to move away from the wet area.
  • What to do after a fall

Tell your Doctor or GP

You should tell your doctor about any fall, particularly if you were unable to get up by yourself. This is very important, as if you have had one fall you may be more likely to fall again. With the help of your doctor and other services you may be able to prevent this happening.

Why do older people fall?

There are lots of reasons why some people are more likely to fall, however it is often a combination of reasons that lead to a fall.

  • Balance – you are more likely to fall if you have weak muscles and poor balance.
  • Medication – some medicines can cause problems with balance or dizziness
  • Poor eyesight
    Poor home safety – for example trailing wires, clutter on the stairs, and standing on chairs or stools to reach high or awkward places.
  • Ear problems – some ear infections such as Labyrinthitis can cause dizziness and affect your balance
  • Blackouts or dizziness – a particular problem can be a drop in blood pressure when getting up from a bed or a chair, known as postural hypotension.

How can I reduce the risk of a fall?

You are more likely to slip or trip if you are wearing:

  • Slippers that are loose or have no back
  • Sandals
  • Shoes with heels
  • Flared trousers
  • Clothing that trails on the ground
  • You should try to wear flat shoes or shoes with thin soles or a built-in heel.
  • Also, remember not to walk on slippery floors in socks or tights.

Have a balanced diet with calcium and vitamin D:

Healthy eating and drinking with plenty of calcium and vitamin D is important to keep your bones strong. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.

Vitimin D is found in:

  • meat, sardines, tuna and other oily fish.
  • many fat spreads and breakfast cereals have vitamin D added to them
  • sunlight on the skin produces vitamin D
  • Osteoporosis can result in broken bones from a minor bump or fall.

How do I make my home fall-proof?

Many slips, trips and falls happen in or around the home. Keeping an eye out for potential hazards can make your home a safer place. Making some simple changes around your home can make a real difference. Here are our 3 top tips:

  1. Rugs and mats at the top or bottom of the stairs are a trip hazard and can easily lead to a fall, so it’s a good idea to move them out of the way.
  2. Install a night light near the bed to make sure if you wake up in the night you can see where you’re going. You can install a motion-activated light that comes on as needed.
  3. Remove trip hazards like trailing wires, clutter and rugs. Also, try and avoid glass furniture as it can be harder to see and may cause a stumble.

Other Helpful Links:

Age UK Information Guide: Staying Steady

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