Falls Prevention

We are all at risk of having a fall. Sometimes it is obvious why we have fallen for example we may have slipped on ice or tripped over something. At other times we are left feeling frustrated as to why we landed on the ground and fearful that it will happen again.

Falls prevention

Older people are much more at risk of falling however this should not just be put down to old age and all falls should be investigated as to their cause and plans made to minimise the risk of it happening again. 

There are many things that can cause a fall, some of these are listed below with advice on how to minimise these risks:

Footwear 

Wearing shoes or slippers that do not fit properly cause many falls.  It is best to wear shoes as much as possible inside and outside as they offer more support than slippers. Footwear should fit securely but should not rub. Velcro straps can be good, especially if your feet tend to swell and they can be adjusted through the day.  Heels, backless shoes and ballet pumps should be avoided.

It is important to keep your toenails at a good length, filing them before a bath or shower is the best option.

If you feel you need advice regarding your foot health you can see a podiatrist. 

Eyesight

It is important to get regular eye tests every year, or prior to that if you notice any changes in your vision. Many opticians will now come to your house so no need to stop getting them checked if you are unable to get out. 

It is important to keep your glasses clean, it is a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning your glasses every time you clean your face.
You may need to have lights on to help you see clearly around the house this is especially important at night, many people leave the hall or bathroom light on if they are getting up during the night.

Our Patient Support Service (Visibility Scotland) at St. John's Hospital provides tailored practical and emotional support to patients attending hospital eye appointments.

If you are living with sight loss, our friendly team can help with:

  • making the most of your vision
  • the registration process
  • reading and navigation
  • technology and assistive apps
  • benefits and entitlements
  • emotional support and much more.

Our patient support team are based in the eye department at St. John's Hospital. Patients who have an eye clinic appointment can drop-in to meet with a member of our team Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you do not have an eye clinic appointment and would like to speak to the team please phone us on 0141 332 4632. Or visit West Lothian Sight Loss Services - Visibility Scotland

Medication 

Some medications can increase our chances of falling, if you think a medication may be to blame for your falls discuss this with your GP or pharmacist.  It is important you do not stop any medications you are prescribed without discussing this with your GP or other health professional. 

Eating and Drinking Well

Eating and drinking well is important for your overall health, however it can also help prevent falls. Making sure you get plenty of nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day, and that you drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Visit NHS Inform to find out more. Local volunteer organisations such as The Food Train can support you. Please contact them on 01506 413 013/ 420 498. You can also contact the West Lothian Foodbank here. 

Food train

Walking aids 

Use of a walking aid can help ease pain in our legs, help steady us if we have poor balance and give us more confidence.  It is important to keep as active as possible and use of a walking aid might allow you to walk further or walk more safely. 

Many people buy their own walking aids, but other walking aids can be prescribed by health or social policy staff.

It is important to check for wear and tear of your walking aid, especially the rubber ferrule at the bottom.  If you received your walking aid from community equipment stores contact them directly if it is damaged in any way.

Equipment

Many different pieces of equipment can be provided to help maintain independence in and around your home. More information can be found on our Occupational Therapy pages. You can also visit our Home Safety page here. Home Safety Service - Health & Social Care Partnership (westlothianhscp.org.uk)

Feeling Dizzy

From time to time we all suffer from dizziness if we get up too quickly.  This can sometimes become a bigger problem and happen frequently causing us to feel unsteady or fall if we get up after sitting or lying for a while.

If you do get dizzy on first getting up sitting on the edge of your bed for a few minutes before you stand up can help. It is important that this is checked to see if we are suffering from dizziness, a drop in blood pressure on standing.  A nurse or GP can check for this by getting you to lie flat for 5 minutes and checking your blood pressure then checking it again when you stand up to see if there is any difference between the readings.

What to do if you do fall 

If you do fall it is important to stay calm, work out if you are injured and decide how you are going to get up off the floor. If you feel you have an injury that requires immediate assistance call 999 for an ambulance.

If you are uninjured,  you can take your time to get off the floor yourself using sturdy furniture and perhaps someone can help talk you through this.  

In West Lothian there is a service that will assist you.  They can be contacted by pressing your home safety service alarm.  They have special equipment to assist you off the floor if this is needed, will make sure that you are feeling ok after the fall and organise a falls and bone health assessment for you if you wish. If you don't have a Home Safety Service alarm, then you can call the Crisis Response Team on 0330 678 2395. You find out more about Crisis Response here. 


You should always report the fall to your health professional. 

Falls assessment 

If you feel you or someone you look after are at risk of falling or have suffered a fall you should discuss this with your GP or any health or social care staff. The Falls Assessor will use the Falls and bone health assessment form (Word doc) [146KB] (opens new window) to help work out why you are falling and it may be helpful for you to fill this out before meeting with them.

Keeping active

It is important that we keep as active as possible to reduce the chance of us falling.  All types of activity are good and it doesn't always require a visit to the gym.  House work, cleaning the car and walking are all good.  Anything that challenges our balance is especially good for falls prevention eg tai chi, dancing.

There are many different activities available in West Lothian for all ages.  The Aging Well Co-ordinator organised activities specifically for those over 60 years. You can also contact the Cyrenians' Older People Active Lives programme at opal@cyrenians.scot or by calling 01506 815 815.

OPAL