A fall is defined as an ‘event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level’ (World Health Organisation, October 2012).
Fear of Falling
If you have already had a trip or fall, you may feel anxious about falling again and this can make you try to avoid moving about. Avoiding physical activity causes your muscles to weaken, and this increases your risk of falling. We all trip or fall sometimes, but fear of falling can become a serious worry. Your GP or other health professional can arrange for a ‘home and person’ risk assessment which will help to find out why you are falling. This assessment can be used to make a personal plan to prevent you from falling again and includes strategies to help build your confidence.
What if I Fall?
Staying up and about – Whatever your age, there are many things that you can do to reduce the risk of falling. This short booklet has useful information to help you to look after your health, stay active and what to do if you have a fall.
No one wants to have a fall, but you can plan ahead in case you do have one. There are some simple points to remember for any fall. The first thing to remember is not to panic. Although you may feel shocked, try to stay calm and assess the situation. There are two plans that you can follow:
If you think you may be hurt or cannot get up without help, follow the Rest and Wait Plan. If you are not hurt, follow the Up and About Plan.
Rest and Wait Plan
- Call for help – use an alarm if you have one, or try to attract the attention of a neighbour by banging on the wall or floor, or shouting. If you can, use a mobile phone or crawl to a telephone and call 999.
- Move to a soft surface – if you land on a hard surface like a kitchen or bathroom floor, try to move to a place with carpet to prevent damage to your skin from the hard surface. You are also likely to be warmer on a soft surface.
- Keep warm – try to reach for a duvet cover, blanket or clothing which is nearby in order to keep yourself warm while you wait for help to arrive. If you can, move out of any area where there is a draught.
- Keep moving – if you lie in one position for too long you may become stiff, sore and cold. Try to rock gently from side to side, but if you have hurt yourself then keep the injured area still. Keep moving to stay focused until help comes.
Up and About Plan
- Every person is different and so the best way to get up off the floor after a fall will be slightly different for everyone.
- It is a good idea to practice how you could get up after a fall in your home, in different rooms so that you are more confident about what to do if you do fall. This will help you decide which pieces of furniture you could use to help yourself up.
- When somebody is with you, try different ways to get up. Or you could join an exercise class that practices ways to get up from the floor and other floor exercises.
- If you do fall, the most important thing is to check that you are not injured, and that you are feeling well enough to get up.
If I fall, what should I do? NHS Inform provides information and advice following a fall, including videos showing you how to get up safely after a fall.
The following two websites provide information to help prevent falls and advice on how to reduce the risk of a fall or further falls:
Accessible information on a range of health care issues, many which relate to falls, can be found at NHS Fife Accessible Information Database.
Strength and Balance
Everyone can improve their strength, balance, stamina and flexibility through exercise. Improvements can be seen at any age. Active Fife have a ‘Strength and Balance for All’ film which is aimed at older adults who want to stay active and independent for as long as possible. Doing these simple activities at least twice a week, in addition to going a daily walk can help you stay strong and balanced and reduce the risk of falls.
The video has been broken up into short sections:
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has produced a Christmas film highlighting the benefits of strength and balance exercises. Click here to view the video.
Regular exercise will help reduce your risk of having a fall. Videos to help you exercise can be found here.
It is important to take care of your feet, whatever your age. Problems like calluses, long toenails, poor circulation or loss of feeling can make you unsteady on your feet, as well as causing pain and discomfort. Wearing shoes that fit properly will help you to move around more safely and comfortably. Shoes and slippers should be comfortable and ideally have a fastening.
FootCare Fife is a toenail cutting service for people who struggle to cut their own toenails. The service is run by Fife Voluntary Action and is delivered by trained volunteers. Appointments can be requested by filling out a simple online form or calling 0800 389 6046. Each appointment costs £10.
Opportunities to Get Active
- Active Fife includes details of local community walking groups, classes, and volunteering opportunities.
- Fife Sports and Leisure Trust: offers a wide range of centre-based activities and tailored groups, for example the Forever Young fun activity sessions designed especially for the young at heart to stay active, social, confident and independent.
- NHS Choices: within the NHS Choices website you will find exercises for older people.
- Fife Direct: information for all residents of Fife.