By Hannah West
Falls are one of the main reasons older people are taken to a hospital’s emergency department.
Most falls don’t cause serious injury, but they can leave you distressed. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to stay steady on your feet, especially during winter.
What can I do to prevent a fall?
Some health conditions, medications and footwear can affect your ability to stay steady on your feet. It is important to have regular check-ups so any issues can be picked up before they cause a fall.
As we get older your muscle strength and balance reduces, which can lead to a fall. You can strengthen these muscles to help with your balance by exercising which can reduce the risk of a fall.
Take care of your eyes
Our eyesight changes as we age and can lead to a trip or loss of balance. Some eye conditions increase with age and it is important that these are detected at an early stage. Get your eyes and glasses checked regularly, at least every two years. This will detect any vision problems early before they cause you to lose your balance and co-ordination.
Check for hearing problems
Problems with your ears can severely affect your balance and the risk of hearing loss increases with age. Talk with your GP if you notice hearing changes are affecting your day-to-day living or social life.
Manage your medicines
Certain medications can make you feel faint or dizzy and affect your balance. Let your GP know if you experience side effects like these after taking any medication; they may need to check the dose or look at alternatives.
Support your bone health
Bones become more brittle and fragile with age. If you have weak bones, a fall can result in a broken bone. Keep your bones healthy and strong by eating calcium-rich foods, getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and doing some weight-bearing exercises.
Choose the right shoes
Problems with your feet or shoes can affect your balance and increase your risk of tripping or falling. Talk to your GP, practice nurse or podiatrist about any foot issues. These footwear tips can help you feel more confident on your feet:
- Make sure your shoes fit well and don’t have a tendency to slip off
- Well-cushioned shoes offer comfort and support
- Avoid sandals with little support and shoes with high heels
- Wear slippers that have a good grip and that fasten and stay on properly
- Always wear shoes or slippers, and never walk indoors in bare feet, socks or tights
There are many other things you can do this winter to stay well. For more winter wellness advice, click here.