Guide to preventing falls



Rivendell’s top tips

A Guide to Preventing Falls for the elderly: Minimizing Trip Hazards, Choosing Appropriate Footwear, and More

Falls are not only traumatic but can also have serious consequences for the elderly, including injuries that can impact their quality of life. However, by taking proactive measures, senior adults can significantly reduce the risk of falls. This guide aims to provide practical tips and advice to prevent falls by minimizing trip hazards, choosing suitable footwear, and implementing other relevant safety measures.

Create a safe and clutter free living environment:

  • Remove clutter: Keep pathways clear by removing items such as excess furniture and trip hazards. Loose wires can be hard to see, especially if the room is dark. Ensure all wires are hidden under the flooring or by using cable mats. 
  • Secure loose carpets and rugs: Use non-slip pads or double-sided tape to keep them firmly in place.
  • Improve lighting: Ensure all rooms are well-lit, use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms, and consider motion-sensor lights to minimize the risk of tripping in the dark.
  • Install hand/grab rails: Place sturdy handrails along staircases, in bathrooms, and near other areas where support is needed.
  • Install a stair lift: According to RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) over 43,000 people are hospitalised annually due to stair related incidents.  Every year, more than a third of people over 65 and half of those over 80 suffer a fall that needs medical treatment. By using a stairlift this can reduce the risks.

Wear Appropriate Footwear:

  • Choose orthopaedic shoes: Opt for well-fitting shoes with a low heel, non-slip soles, and good arch and ankle support. Avoid high heels, open-back shoes, and flip-flops and ensure wear appropriate footwear for the right activities. Popular brands of footwear for the elderly are Sketchers, FitVille and Dr Comfort.
  • Properly fitted footwear: Ensure shoes are the correct size and width to prevent blisters or instability while walking.
  • Regularly check shoes: Inspect footwear for any signs of wear, such as worn-out soles which could limit the grip of the shoe.

Maintain Good Physical Health:

  • Exercise regularly: Engage in exercises that improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Consider activities like walking, tai chi, or yoga, with the guidance of a healthcare professional. If mobility is limited complete chair exercises.
  • Vision and hearing check-ups: Regularly visit eye and ear specialists to maintain good vision and hearing, as these play a vital role in preventing falls. Poor ear health can effect balance and can cause dizziness. Poor eye sight can mean that it is more difficult to see trip hazards. 
  • Medication review: Consult with a healthcare professional to assess the side effects of medications, as some may cause dizziness or balance issues. Adjustments or alternative options can be explored if necessary.

Assistive Devices:

  • Walking aids: Use appropriate walking aids, such as canes or walkers, as prescribed by healthcare professionals. As we age, some times particular times of the day are more challenging to stand or walk. At this time of the day use a wheelchair.
  • Non-slip footwear: Wear non-slip socks or slippers with rubber soles inside the house to improve stability.

Bathroom Safety:

  • Install grab bars: Place grab bars near toilets, showers, and bathtubs to provide stability and support.
  • Use non-slip mats: Place non-slip mats both inside and outside the shower or bathtub to prevent slipping.
  • Raised toilet seat: Consider installing a raised toilet seat to reduce the risk of falls when sitting down or standing up.

Take Precautions Outdoors:

  • Be cautious on uneven surfaces: Watch out for uneven pavements, curbs, or slippery surfaces and tread carefully.
  • Dress appropriately: In icy or wet conditions, wear footwear with good traction, and consider using a walking stick for added stability.

Prepare for emergencies:

  • Keep a mobile phone in your pocket: By ensuring you have easy access to a phone, it means that you can call emergency services without having to struggle.
  • Set up “find my friends”: By sharing your location, it allows loved ones to check in on where someone is located if they are unable to speak to them.
  • Personal alarm systems: Consider using a medical alert device that can be worn as a necklace or bracelet, allowing you to call for help in case of a fall.
  • Smart watches: Apple’s new watches have fall detection monitoring which can alert emergency services once a fall has taken place.