Every year one in three people aged 65 and over in Derbyshire will have a trip or fall. This rises to one in two in people aged 80 and over.
Falls are a major cause of hospital admissions and can result in serious injuries such as hip fractures.
Falls, and the fear of falling, can also contribute to a loss of confidence and independence.
However falling over isn’t an inevitable part of the ageing process. Many falls are preventable and we want to help you stay on your feet, living the life you want to live.
Are you at risk of falling?
We are all at risk of having a fall but as we get older our risk increases due to a variety of reasons including:
- Balance - we rely on our balance to stay upright when we overreach or trip. However, as we age our balance reaction time gets slower
- Muscle strength - as we age we lose muscle strength and between the ages of 50 and 70 you will lose 30% of muscle strength
- Bones - bones become more brittle as we age, making them more likely to fracture if you fall. This is especially true for postmenopausal women.
The checklist below helps you to think about your risk of falling. Take a look and see how many apply to you.
Table to help you to think about your risk of falling
|Risk factor||Why it matters|
|I have fallen in the last year
||People who have fallen are more likely to fall again
|I need to push with my hands to stand up from a chair
||This is a sign of weak leg muscle which can be a major reason for falling
|I feel unsteady sometimes when walking and have to use a stick or furniture to help myself
||Unsteadiness or needing support are signs that you may have poor balance
|I sometimes have to rush to the toilet
||Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases your risk of falling
|I am worried about falling
||People who are worried about falling are more likely to fall
|I take medicine that sometimes makes me feel sleepy, feel light-headed, dizzy or more drowsy than usual. e.g sleeping pills, blood pressure pills etc.
||Side effects from medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling
|I take four or more medicines
||Taking four or more medicines increases your risk of falling
|It has been more than two years since I had my eyes checked
||Your eyes can change as you age, your glasses may need to as well
|I often feel sad or depressed
||Symptoms of depression such as feeling sad or unmotivated, have been linked to an increased falls risk
|My house is a bit cluttered, some of my light bulbs don’t work and I have to use the doorframe to steady myself getting in/out of the house
||Clutter, poor lighting and absence of handrails can increase your risk of falling
If you have answered yes to one or more of the questions, you could be at risk of falling.
You might want to think about what steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling. Below are some ideas for reducing your risk.
Reduce the risk of falling
There are some simple things that you can do to reduce your risk of falling:
Join a falls prevention exercise class
Strictly No Falling is a falls prevention exercise programme for older people across Derbyshire.
You will improve your strength and balance, have fun and meet new friends. Find out more by calling 01773 768240 or visit Strictly No Falling.
Make your home safer
Remove any clutter that may cause you to trip, fix any missing or broken light bulbs and see if there is any specialist equipment that you might be entitled to such as grab rails.
The services below may be able to offer you help and practical support.
Handy van service
The Handy van service can visit your property to carry out a falls risk assessment and provides practical support with changing light bulbs, securing carpets and more.
Find out more about the service by calling 01629 533190.
Derbyshire Falls Alert Service
If you do have a fall it’s important that you are able to alert someone so you can get help quickly. The Derbyshire Falls Alert Service lets older people get help at the push of a button using a falls alarm.
Get in touch by calling 01629 533190 or visit the Derbyshire Falls Alert Service.
Speak to your GP about any worries about falling
They can arrange for your medicines to be reviewed, they can also check your balance if you feel unsteady and check if there are any underlying issues that might mean you need to rush to the toilet.
Visit an optician
Get your eyes checked at least once every year - it’s free if you are aged 60 or older.
Find out more about caring for your eyes as you get older at the NHS Livewell website.
Advice and support for professionals
If you are a professional, carer or volunteer who comes into regular contact with older people then you can find advice and help on how to prevent falls on Derbyshire County Council's website.