Reducing winter falls

Keeping on the move is important no matter your age, particularly in the winter. But, faced with frosty and icy paths and pavements, braving the outside world can be daunting especially when you aren’t confident on your feet and are afraid of falling.

Falls result in round 50 calls being made to the ambulance service every day in Leicestershire and the cost of treatment to the NHS is an average of £28,000 per person. Since April 2015, more than 1,300 older people have had an emergency admission to hospital following a fall. In winter, the number of hospital admissions is much higher.

Apart from the pain, discomfort and inconvenience, the after effects of a fall can include a loss of confidence. Stepping outside the home suddenly becomes fraught with risk and something to be avoided.

Councillor Ernie White, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for health, said: “I’d encourage people to visit our website for tips on how to avoid falls. It’s important for our mental and physical health that we all keep moving, particularly during the winter. There is a range of community-based care available, including fitness workshops and Tai Chi classes, to help people to stay healthy and live at home as safely and independently as possible”

To keep yourself mobile during the winter and reduce the risk of falling, there are a number of steps you can take.

Look after your feet. Make sure your shoes hold your foot firmly in place and avoid narrow heels or worn soles. See a podiatrist if your feet are painful.

Stay well. Keep eating healthily and regularly and drink lots of water. Always take your medicine on time, as prescribed and be aware of side effects such as dizziness, disturbed balance or drowsiness. Be aware of changing weather conditions.

Look after your eyes. Have them checked regularly. It’s free if you’re over 65. Look after your glasses and clean them often.

Stay active and steady. Try to do little things every day and continue with any exercises you have been advised to do.

Look after your home. Look out for tripping hazards such as worn floor coverings, curled mat/rug edges and dark colour animals. Keep your floors clear of clutter and ensure you have good lighting, particularly on the stairs or at night near the bathroom. Keep your home warm.

Leicestershire resident, Mrs Joyce Taylor recently took advantage of the county’s falls prevention service, which she said has given her a new lease of life: “Following my assessment, I was referred to do a six week course by my GP as I was experiencing lots of falls. It was brilliant. I have my confidence back and I’m happy to go out on my own now whereas I had avoided it in the past because I kept tripping or falling over. I would recommend the service without hesitation,” she said.

More advice on keeping warm and well in winter can be found on the NHS website