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Everyone falls from time to time, but injury from falls and slips especially in the elderly or disabled cannot always be avoided.  However, the risks can be reduced.  Before we look at what to do if you fall, let's look at what can cause you to fall.

People are at a higher risk of falling if they have had a fall in the past 12 months, balance or ear problems, fear of falling, or mental health problems.  Medicines can increase your risk since there may be side effects relating to sight, balance or dizziness and feel light-headed.  Your doctor or pharmacist can advise on possible side effects of medicines and the best times to take your medications as some have to be taken with food or at night. Taking them at the wrong time may make you feel unwell.  Make sure your doctor reviews your medications at least every 6 months.  Ensuring that you eat a regular, healthy diet as lower sugar levels can cause dizziness.  Your doctor's surgery can advise a diet or put you in touch with someone who can help. 

Make sure you wear your glasses or hearing aids if you have them, and make sure your home is well lit so you can see where you are going and hear any possible dangers.  You can get free eye tests and hearing tests. There are also some opticians that can test your eyes at home.  If you have pets, make sure you know where they are and if they have toys, try to keep them tidy.  A dog can leave dribble or urine on a floor, and this could cause a slip hazard.

Your footwear is important to reduce slipping and falling.  Make sure your footwear is in good condition and the soles are not broken.  Shoes should fit correctly and have a good grip on effective fastenings to keep them in place. If shoes are not done up or there is a loose shoelace this can easily trip you. Avoid just wearing socks as these can cause you to slip and you can easily stub your toes if you are wearing socks or barefoot.  If you do not have shoes or slippers to wear, barefoot is better than just wearing socks since you will have more grip on bare feet.

Clothing can also cause problems since badly fitting clothes that are too long can trip you up as you walk. Loose clothing can also get caught on door handles which will pull you over as well.  Loose rugs, mats and damaged carpets can trip you as well as cables or other items on the floor.  Take care when going to the toilet, especially at night.  Make sure you turn lights on and use handles to keep yourself safe.

If you use mobility aids, make sure they are in good working order and they have been adjusted in size for you.  Walking sticks, crutches, and frames must be maintained and have effective rubbers on the end.  The rubber should be checked daily as sometimes the stick can cut through the rubber and you may push down and be on bare metal rather than the non-slip rubber.  Your doctor or hospital can advise on where you can go for help and advise.

If you do fall, the first thing to do is to try not to panic. Relax and think about what you need to do rather than quickly try and get up. You need to know why you fell to avoid it happening again. Attempt to get up by rolling onto your hands and knees and crawl to a piece of furniture to pull yourself up.  If you are unable to get up, get help by using your emergency pendant, shout for help, use call bells, or phone someone if possible.  If this is not possible try to keep warm and move as much as you can.  Keep hydrated and try to use cushions to be as comfortable as possible until help arrives.  If you pass urine while on the floor, try to move away from the wet area and use newspapers or magazines to absorb the fluid.

A lot of what we have covered is common sense, but if you aren't careful and rush, you can easily fall.  Make sure you tell someone if you fall or feel dizzy at times so they can get you help to remove the risk or help you get medication to feel better.