Falls prevention

As people get older, it can be a little bit harder to do some of the things we take for granted doing every day. While this is a normal part of getting older, there are lots of things you can do to reduce the risk of falls.

#FallProofBarnsley is here to provide information about how you can make small changes to stay happy and healthy at home.

Falls are a common and serious problem for older people; each year, 30 percent of people older than 65 have a fall, rising to 50 percent of people older than 80. In Barnsley, there were 1305 emergency admissions to hospital for falls in 2019 to 2020 for people over 65 years of age.   

For people to stay happy and independent, it’s important that the risks of falling are understood, so that small changes can be made to avoid it from happening. These risks should be taken very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person's health. You can reduce the risk by: 

  • taking care of your physical health 
  • making simple changes to your home  
  • exercising to improve your strength and balance

Read our fall proof booklet.

How to help reduce your risk of falling

You can help to reduce the risk of falls by making changes to your lifestyle, your home and your health. If you’re worried about family, friends of neighbours, please share the information below so they can stay safe, happy and independent. You can also read our falls prevention leaflet.

Ear checks

Regular ear checks can help to prevent falls due to dizzy spells and poor balance. Your GP can make a referral to specialists, and if hearing loss affects your everyday life our sensory impairment service can help. 

Eye sight checks

Poor vision can increase the risk of falls, even when wearing glasses. It’s a good idea to visit an optician for a sight test. Regular checks every two years can also help prevent sight loss by identifying problems early. Find a local optician on the NHS website. 

Exercising

The What's Your Move website has lots of resources for low-impact, easy exercises and ideas to improve strength and balance. Doing regular exercise can improve strength and balance, reducing your risk of falling.

Local services including leisure centres, Walk Well Barnsley and healthy bone classes offer a wide variety of physical activity sessions. You can also find a service on Live Well Barnsley see what activities are available in your area, or call Age UK Barnsley on (01226) 776820.

The Barnsley Older People Physical Activity Alliance (BOPPAA) offers a wide range of fun activities across the borough to help get older people moving.

Exercise videos

Stepping up a step

Sit to stand

Single leg balance

Side leg raises

Heel to toe walking

Heel to toe raise

Footwear

  • Wear properly fitting shoes and slippers with non-skid soles.
  • Replace slippers and shoes that have stretched and are too loose.
  • Take care of your feet, taking care to trim your toenails. Podiatry services can be accessed through your GP where there's a medical issue.

General health

High blood pressure can cause dizziness, increasing the risk of falling. If you're experiencing dizziness visit your GP for a blood pressure check.

It's important to keep a check on your health; if you're aged between 40 and 74 and don't have a pre-existing health condition such as diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease and atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you can have a free NHS health check.

The health check could help prevent or delay the onset of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney disease and dementia.

Medication

Some medication can have side effects that make people more likely to fall, so you should have a yearly review with your GP or practice nurse.

Reducing alcohol intake

It’s a good idea to avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol as this can contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Reducing risks in your home

One of the most important ways to reduce falls in your home and to stay independent is by:

  • keeping your home free of clutter and making sure there's no trailing wires
  • being aware of tripping hazards, such as rugs and pets
  • being aware of uneven floors
  • considering using a slip-proof mat in the bath and shower
  • making sure lighting is good enough so you can see
  • wiping up spills straight away
  • avoiding walking on slippery floors in socks or tights
  • not rushing to answer the door or telephone - consider getting a portable or mobile phone

Cold weather can also increase the risk of falls, as well as the risk of developing other cold-related health problems. You can find information on how to keep warm and well in cold weather on the NHS website.

You can also find out about making your home warmer and cheaper to run and read our advice for private tenants.

What to do if you fall

If you fall when you're alone, get help and keep yourself warm. Wearing a telecare alarm will enable you to get help quickly. Raising the alarm will alert our response centre staff and they'll ring you to see what's wrong. Find out more about assistive living technology (telecare).

When you next see your doctor or nurse, tell them about your fall. They can check whether a health problem is causing you to fall and if it's likely to happen again. If it is, they may give you medication to improve your condition.

Make sure you tell your family that you've had a fall. They'll be able to keep an eye on you and make sure you get any treatment you might need.

If you need some help

If you're struggling to keep mobile and stay safe in your home, ask us for some help. Our equipment and adaptations service can offer you advice on better ways of doing everyday tasks around your home and safer ways to move. We can also provide specialist equipment and make adaptations for people who might need extra support to live independently in their own home for longer. 

Age UK Barnsley can give you advice about different kinds of equipment that could prevent you falling. Call them on (01226) 776820 if you want more information about their home safety scheme and checklist.

You can also find a service on Live Well Barnsley look for equipment or services yourself.