Taking positive steps to avoid trips and falls

Around one in three older people experience a fall at least once a year. Younger people can be at risk of falling too. The good news is there are many ways we can support you to reduce your risk of falls. NHS Scotland’s Up and About booklet has lots of information on how you can take positive steps to avoid trips and falls.

What to do if you fall

  • use a community alarm, if you have one
  • use a phone to call a relative, friend or neighbour. If you’re injured, phone 999 and ask for an ambulance. If you’re not sure, phone 111
  • ask your smart speaker, if you have one, to call someone who can help you
  • try shouting, or banging on a wall, to try to attract your neighbour’s attention.

Be prepared in case you fall

  • NHS Inform shows you how to be prepared and know how to get up off the floor.
  • The Get Up And Go booklet provides information on falls prevention and how to make a plan
  • You or your health professional can request a falls assessment by calling Social Care Direct on 0131 200 2324
  • A community alarm can alert for help if you fall. Contact Social Care Direct for information on how to start the referral process on 0131 200 2324

Ways to reduce your risk of falls

  • How is your health? – Dizziness, blackouts, fainting? Headaches, chest pain or palpitations? Do you manage your health conditions well? Your GP can help with these. It is important to tell your GP if you have had a fall.
  • Are you taking medications? – Some medications can increase your falls risk. Ask your pharmacist or GP for a medication review.
  • How is your eyesight? – Getting your eyesight checked regularly is important. Visit NHS Inform for information about getting your eyes checked. Contact your local optician to arrange an appointment.
  • Do you hear well? – It is a good idea to get your hearing tested regularly. Your GP can arrange a referral. Many opticians also offer hearing tests free of charge.
  • Feet and footwear – Foot problems and shoes that are well worn or don’t fit well can increase your risk of falls. A podiatrist can help you. Contact NHS Lothian Podiatry for an appointment. It is a good idea to consider replacing your shoes if they are well worn.
  • Pain and injuries can make you less steady on your feet. You can ask to see a physiotherapist.
  • Around your home – There are often ways to make your home safer. Check your home is well lit and you have space to easily walk around. You may need equipment to make you home safer and easier to live in. You can order community equipment and minor adaptations from the Partnership.
  • Eating well and staying hydrated – Having balanced diet and drinking lots of water is a good way of making sure you have enough energy. Eating foods with plenty of calcium and taking the right amount of vitamin D can help maintain healthy bones.  The Royal Osteoporosis Society has more information about eating enough calcium. Visit the Scottish Government website to get advice about getting more vitamin D. Your GP can help if you are not sure.
  • Staying active We are all recommended to take at least 150mins of exercise a week including strength and balance exercises twice a week. There are lots of health benefits that come from doing this including reducing the risk of falls.
  • Visit Falls Assistant to find some exercises you can do to help prevent falls.
  • Steady Steps is a programme run by Edinburgh Leisure, supported by the Long Term Conditions Programme. It’s for anyone who has had or is at risk of having a fall. If you feel you would benefit from taking part in Steady Steps speak to your health professional who can make a referral on your behalf.
  • Lots of the activities you do daily and enjoy all help with staying active.