Top Tips for Staying Steady:
- Visit your GP.
If you had a fall or are worried about falling, tell your GP, even if you feel okay. There could be many reasons and, equally, many ways to help you feel confident again.
- Ask about your medications.
Certain medications can make you feel faint or affect your balance. Let your GP or pharmacist know if you ever feel like this, as they may want to change your dose or look at alternatives. You should have an annual medication review with your GP.
- Check your eyes and hearing.
Regular sight test and reporting ear pain or difficulties with hearing can identify problems that could affect your balance and co-ordination. Eye tests are free for everyone over 60 and for any problems with you ear, speak to your GP.
- Exercise regularly.
Regular physical activity strengthens muscles. The recommended activity level is 30 minutes, five time a week. Focus on activities that challenge your balance and strengthen your legs. Daily brisk walks, vigorous housework, gardening and dancing all strengthen your legs. Experts also advise twice weekly muscle strengthening exercises for the over 65’s.
- Vitamin D for vitality.
Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones strong – the best source is sunshine. Try going outside without sunscreen for a few minutes around lunchtime every day during summer. Take care not to let your skin redden or burn. Foods such as oily fish or eggs provide Vitamin D. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about Vitamin D supplements.
- Count your calcium.
A balanced diet rich in calcium will also help to keep your bones strong. You can find calcium in milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt, fortified soya products and canned fish. Aim for two to three servings of calcium-rich food a day.
- Check for home hazards.
Make sure your home is hazard-free and well lit. Organise your things so that you’re not at risk of tripping over any wires, clutter, loose mats or frayed carpets.
- Look after your feet.
Problems with your feet, especially anything that causes pain, can affect your balance. Be sure to wear well-fitted shoes and slippers that close at the back, and report any foot problems to your GP or chiropodist.
- Continence management.
Three to six million people over 60 in the UK have urinary incontinence problems. If you need to get up at night to use the toilet always use your bedside light. Never walk in the dark or rush yourself as this can make falls more likely. Incontinence can be improved. Speak to your GP or refer yourself to the continence clinic.
The risk of unsteadiness after drinking alcohol increases with age, making older people more susceptible to falls.
Other useful tips
- Avoid sudden or quick movements.
- Plan before you move.
- Get out of bed slowly and in stages. First sit up, then sit on the side of the bed before standing. Count to 10 before setting off.
- If possible, sit when washing, showering, dressing or when working in the kitchen, otherwise lean against the counter or basin.
- Make sure you have your walking aid to hand or something to hold on to when standing up.
- Take your time when changing position (i.e. when rising from your chair or turning).
- Try to avoid bending down or stretching up quickly.
- Avoid taking risks around the house, for example by standing on a chair to change a light bulb or reaching up to a high cupboard.
- Exercise can improve your balance. Try walking, preferably outdoors or try joining an exercise class.
- Consult your GP before undertaking any form or new physical activity or exercise.
- Use your pendant alarm, if you have one
- Use your mobile phone - get into the habit of carrying this with you at all times
- Crawl to a telephone and dial 999
- Bang on the floor or shout
- Try to get up if you are uninjured and feel able to
- Cover yourself with anything to hand, for example a towel, rug, or blanket
- Move position to avoid getting pressure sores
- Move joints to avoid stiffness and help circulation