Falls are the biggest cause of accidents in the home – but many can be prevented.
There are lots of simple things you can do to stay steady on your feet and reduce your risk of falling, including exercises to improve your balance, wearing the correct footwear to avoid a slip, annual eye tests to ensure your vision is at its best and keeping stairs and pathways clear.
Scroll down for our easy strength and balance exercises, more top tips and links to other useful information.
Simple ways to prevent falls
Watch this video for top tips on how to stay steady on your feet and reduce your risk of falling, from our Falls Prevention Nurse Rachel Morris and Falls Physical Activity Co-ordinator Stephen Pugh.
If you find those tips helpful, you might also enjoy and benefit from the video exercise programme below, in which Stephen takes you through a series of exercises you can do at home to improve your strength and balance.
Easy exercises for improving your strength and balance
All you need for the easy home-based exercises below are some comfortable clothes, supportive footwear and a sturdy, stable chair. Just watch the videos and follow along. Make sure you have a glass of water ready for afterwards too.
Always start with the warm up sequence before the strength and balance exercises and then finish with the cool down. Aim to do these exercises three times per week – or twice a week in addition to a home visit.
Breathe normally throughout and try not to hold your breath. Feeling your muscles working or slight muscle soreness the next day after exercise is normal and shows that the exercises are working.
If you feel pain in your joints or muscles while you are exercising just stop, check your position, and try again. But if the pain persists, please seek advice from your GP or our Falls Prevention Team.
If you experience chest pain, dizziness or severe shortness of breath, stop immediately and contact your GP (or call an ambulance if you feel very unwell and your symptoms do not go away when you stop exercising).
Warm up exercises
Falls Physical Activity Co-ordinator Stephen Pugh takes you through a ten minute warm up which you can do seated on your chair.
This sequence will warm up and mobilise all your joints. Watch the video and follow along. Try to keep a good posture throughout and build up to a ten minute warm up
Make sure you complete the warm up exercises before moving onto these balance exercises, which are completed whilst standing, using a sturdy chair for support.
Strength and balance training are important for preventing falls, so once you have completed the warm up and balance exercises it’s time to move on to these simple exercises for improving your strength.
You will need a resistance band to complete these exercises. These are widely available online and Stephen explains more about this in the video.
Cooling down is just as important as warming up, so once you have completed the strength and balance exercises, follow this simple five minute stretching and relaxing routine to cool down.
Top tips to reduce your risk of falls
- Wearing well fitted footwear with good support and an adjustable strap.
- Remeasure your feet, size and shape can change as you get older.
- Get your eyes tested every 12 months or if you notice a deterioration.
- Clean your glasses and make sure they don’t have any marks or smudges on them.
- Check the bottom of your walking stick, the plastic can get worn easily.
- If you’re on more than four medications a day your chance of falling may be increased, it’s important to have your medications reviewed every 12 months or if you have a change in your symptoms. Your GP or pharmacist can do this.
- Check for rugs, wires or anything loose in your home that you may trip over.
- Clean up any spillages so you don’t slip on them.
- Try to avoid reaching or bending down too low, have things you need frequently in reaching distance.
- Remove any clutter from your stairway.
- Make sure your home is well lit, especially at night.
- Being fit and active can help reduce your risk of falls, regular strength and balance exercises can help you with this.
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time.
- Walk with good posture and without your hands in your pockets so you can react to your surroundings.
- Your bone health is really important to help prevent falls. Having a healthy diet rich in calcium can help, and taking a vitamin D supplement in winter, or all year round if you are at risk.
- Your blood pressure can change from laying to standing. If you get dizzy, pause for a moment before moving. If it happens regularly you should see you GP.