5 easy ways to protect against falls

Lorraine Tinkler shares five steps to help you feel more confident on your feet even in the poorest weather.
older woman - protect against falls

Having a fall – especially when it’s wet or icy outside – can be a scary experience, particularly if you injure yourself. Understandably, it can make you think twice about leaving your home at this time of year – whether or not you’ve fallen before.

Whilst it’s completely normal to have trepidations about falling again, it’s really important to try and face your feelings head on, so you’re able to rebuild your confidence and regain your quality of life.

Here Lorraine Tinkler, Home Manager at Bupa’s Cottingley Hall Care Home shares five steps to help you feel more like yourself and protect against falls. protect against falls protect against falls protect against falls

regular exercise can protect against falls
Regular exercise is a good way to maintain muscle tone and dexterity.

Stay strong

As we get older, our muscles naturally lose strength, but the good news is that it’s often possible to limit how much strength you lose. Along with reducing your risk of falling, keeping strong can make a big impact on your overall wellbeing and self-esteem, as well as how easy it is for you to carry out your daily activities.

Regular exercise can help to strengthen and tone your muscles, meaning you’re less likely to fall again and hurt yourself. Aim to do two and a half hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week – this is the equivalent of twenty minutes, each day. Mix up your week with a range of activities that you find fun and work for you; think a brisk walk, swimming, dancing and gardening.

Many everyday activities naturally include weight-bearing, so don’t shy away from things like carrying your full shopping bags or digging when you’re gardening. Introducing other activities – like Pilates, yoga, tai chi or water aerobics – can help you to improve your balance and coordination to help keep your muscles even stronger.

If you have trouble standing, staying active is still important – there are lots of seat-based exercises that can help to boost your mood and keep you strong. Try this step-by-step guide for chair yoga.

Whatever exercise you choose, start things small and increase the amount you do over time as your strength and confidence improves.

Assess why you fell

If you’ve had a fall, it can be useful to think back on why exactly the fall happened. Ask yourself what caused the fall, for example:

  • Were you rushing?
  • Did you feel dizzy?
  • What were the floor conditions like? Was it icy, or were there hazards on the floor like leaves, or clutter?
  • If you use a walking aid, were you using the correct one?
  • If you don’t use a walking aid, would using one have helped to make your fall less severe?

Identifying areas that may increase your risk of falling can help you to understand why you last fell, as well as avoid it happening in the future.

Tackle your fears

Now that you’ve a better idea of why your fall may have happened, the next step is to challenge any anxieties you have about falling.

It’s normal to feel worried every now and then, but when it stops you from doing things that you enjoy, it’s important to try and reduce those worries – though this may take some practice!

Recognise the signals that your body is sending you if you’re feeling anxious – are you breathing faster than usual, or is your heart pounding when you think about walking in the winter? Start to reduce your anxiety by taking deep breaths – breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale over four seconds, rest for another four and then repeat until you feel calmer.

Speaking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling can be a great step towards recognising what exactly is making you feel worried and help ease what you’re feeling.

Don’t forget to remind yourself of how well you’re doing and what you’re overcoming. These acknowledgments will help to assure yourself and prove that your confidence is rebuilding.

set goals to gain confidence
Let family know what your plans are if you are leaving the house.

Make a plan to protect against falls

Although nobody wants to fall, putting a plan in place can help you feel more in control, should it ever happen.

Think about who you’d contact if you fell, and how you would go about contacting them. If you live on your own, mobile phones, community (personal) alarms and asking friends, family or neighbours to check in on you can give you peace of mind.

Don’t forget to share your plan with friends, family, and neighbours so that everyone is prepared together, should you ever fall.

Set yourself goals

As much as it’s important to take things at your own pace, setting yourself small, achievable targets can help you keep track of how far you’ve come and what you can do to progress further.

Your first goal could be simply walking from one side of the living room to the other, then you could build this to walk from the front door to the end of your road and back.

Testing yourself in these small ways can help you assess your abilities and apply what you’ve thought about during your assessment of why you may have fallen. For example, you may not feel especially confident on your feet just now, but would you feel more comfortable if you had a walking aid, like a frame or a stick, to support you, at least until your confidence grows?

Think about speaking to a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist to help you decide on any additional equipment that may help you with your exercise and slowly rebuild your confidence.

Lorraine Tinkler is a Home Manager at Bupa’s Cottingley Hall Care Home.

If you found 5 easy ways to protect against falls helpful, you’ll find more common-sense ideas for independent living in later life on our health channel.

Tags: , , Last modified: February 2, 2022

Written by 3:14 pm Health