A fall is an event which causes a person to come to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level.
Facts about falls
- Falls are a serious issue in Tasmania.
- One in three people aged over 65 years will fall each year.
- Falls can happen to anyone at any age and are not a normal part of getting older.
- Most falls do not result in serious injury, but they can be serious and may mean you have to go to hospital.
- Falls can lead to a loss of confidence and a loss of independence.
What causes falls
Falls can happen for two main reasons:
- Personal risk factors include medical conditions, eyesight, physical health, some medications and previous falls.
- Environmental risk factors include hazards in your house, garden or surrounds.
- There are simple and effective steps you can follow to prevent most falls and injuries.
- Staying physically active and independent are important as we age.
- Reducing personal and environmental falls risks is important to prevent falls.
Are you at risk of falling?
- Use this checklist to determine your personal risk of falling.
- If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions you are at risk of falling.
- The good news is that there are steps you can take now to reduce your risk.
- Take falls prevention seriously if you answered ‘no’ to all questions and are aged 65 or over.
Risk of falling
Having previously fallen increases your chance of falling again.
Many falls are the result of muscle weakness and/or impaired balance.
Some side effects and combinations of medicines can increase your risk of a fall.
Many health conditions can increase your risk of falling.
Tips to prevent falls
Follow these nine steps to help prevent most falls.
- Be active
- Manage your medications
- Manage your health
- Improve your balance
- Walk tall
- Foot care and safe footwear
- Regularly check your eyesight
- Eat well for life
- Identify, remove and report hazards
Download ‘Nine steps to stay on your feet®’ booklet
Wearing safe shoes
- One way to reduce your risk of falling is changing the types of shoes you wear.
- Use this checklist to determine how safe your shoes are.
- If you answered ‘no’ to one or more of these questions you are at risk of falling.
- Talk to your podiatrist or GP to discuss ways to reduce the risks.
Download the ‘Are your shoes safe?’ checklist
Information about safe shoes
Do your shoes fit well?
Shoes that are too tight or too loose can be dangerous.
Do you mostly wear flat shoes?
High heels can be very dangerous.
Does the sole of your shoe bend at the ball of your foot, not the arch?
This is better for walking on uneven surfaces.
Does the sole have a bit of bounce?
This helps prevent jarring to your foot.
Does the sole have some grip?
Sharp shoe edges can slip easily on wet or shiny surfaces.
What to do if you fall at home
- Stay calm and try not to panic
- Catch your breath and recover from the shock
- Assess the situation and check your body for injuries
- Ask yourself: can I get up from the floor?
- If you cannot get up on your own:
- Press your personal alarm
- Try and get somebody's attention for help
- Make a loud noise
- Try and reach the phone
- Slide or crawl for the front door
- Use pillows or blankets within reach to be comfortable and warm
- Try to rest and save energy until help arrives
It is a good idea to practice getting up from the floor. Do not practice unattended. Speak to your doctor or physiotherapist.
How to get up from the floor at home
- Turn on to your back.
- Roll on to your side.
- Push on to your hands.
- Push up on to your hands and knees.
- Kneel, using stable furniture to STEADY yourself.
- Place your strongest leg forward.
- Stand up.
- Turn SLOWLY.
- Sit down. REST. TELL somebody you have fallen.
Download the ‘How can I get up from the floor at home’ poster
What you can do as a hospital patient
- Bring a list of the medications and supplements you take.
- Bring your glasses, walking and hearing aids to hospital.
- Make sure your equipment is within easy reach.
- Use your call bell for assistance.
- Staff will attend as soon as possible. It is important to wait for them.
- Take your time to get up after sitting or lying down.
- If you are feeling unwell or unsteady, please do not get up. Call for assistance.
- If you feel dizzy or unwell while walking or standing, sit down. Call for assistance.
- If there are hazards in your way, ask someone to move them for you.
- If there is a spill on the floor, ask someone to clean it up.
- Make sure you wear non-slip footwear when walking (not just socks or stockings).
How we help you in hospital
- Many falls occur when you are not with a staff member.
- They can happen in passageways, your room and in bathrooms.
- If you have a fall, do not try to get up by yourself.
- Call staff to help you.
- Please do not ask visitors to help you to get up.
- Our staff will identify what contributed to your fall and reduce the risk of you falling again.
- A doctor may assess you.
- Staff will repeat your falls risk assessment.
- Your care plan may change. We will discuss this with you.
What to do before you leave hospital
- We may refer you for follow-up services.
- Ask for information about your medications and their effects.
What to do when you get home from hospital
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist about reviewing your medication regularly.
- Get regular check-ups with your GP.
- Ask your doctor about vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Helping someone if they have had a fall
Your friend or relative may be more at risk of a fall if they:
- have problems with walking and balance
- need help when going to the toilet
- are taking medication
- are confused or disorientated
- have problems with their eyesight
- have a health issue such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease or if they have had a stroke
- have recently had an operation.
How you can help while they are in hospital
- Please bring their glasses, walking aids and hearing aids to the hospital.
- Make sure the call bell and any equipment they might need is within reach.
- Ensure that they are wearing suitable clothing and non-slip footwear.
- Call nursing staff if they need to get out of bed. Do not assist them to get out.
- Please do not adjust bed rails.
- If they have a fall, do not try to help them to get up. Please ask staff to help you.
How you can help when they go home
- Preventing falls is also important once they return home.
- Encourage them to stay physically active.
- A physiotherapist can show them exercises.
- Rehabilitation exercise programs may help if they have been inactive for a while.
- Talk to the ward occupational therapist for help about how they manage daily activities at home.
- Encourage them to talk to their GP or pharmacist to review any medication.
- If they worry about falling, encourage them to talk to their GP for advice.
Information for health professionals
You play an important role in preventing patient falls.
- Check level of mobility assistance required by the patient.
- Minimise clutter and remove potential trip hazards.
- Keep floors clean and dry.
- Keep a person's walking aids, call bell and belongings within easy reach.
- Inform nursing staff of any patient falls.
- If you must move furniture, put it back where it was once you've finished.
Contacts for falls prevention information and activities
Launceston Community Health Centre (North) – phone: 03 6777 1427
North West Regional Hospital (Physio) – phone: 03 6493 6250
Mersey Community Hospital (Physio) – phone: 03 6478 5325
Community Allied Health Services (South) – phone: 03 6166 7279