Accidents and older people

Older people are at particular risk of death and disability from falls on stairs or steps. Over 3,000 people over the age of 65 years are killed annually in falls.

These simple steps can prevent pain and injury caused by falls.

  • Keep physically active.
  • Take regular exercise (e.g. brisk walking or light gardening) to improve weak muscles and poor balance, which can cause someone to fall.
  • Take fewer risks in your routine.
  • Take your time when getting out of bed or up from a chair. It is a good idea to do it in slow stages, so as not to become light-headed.
  • Be aware of changes in your health.
  • Have regular eye tests and foot care. If you are taking more than four medications, ask your GP to review them on a regular basis. Let a friend or neighbour know if you are feeling unwell.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Ensure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of fracture. Choose low-fat versions of calcium rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
  • Avoid wearing badly fitting, loose-fitting or open-backed shoes and shoes with heels that may cause you to slip or trip.
  • Take precautions in the home.
  • Make simple modifications to your home to help reduce accidents
  • Find out if there is any assistive technology that will help you.

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Top tips for safety on the stairs

  • Light up your stairs
  • Take care when carrying things up and down stairs
  • Take care when cleaning
  • Keep stairs and landings free of clutter
  • Wear glasses if necessary
  • More haste - less speed
  • Stay steady
  • Hold the handrail
  • Keep using the stairs - exercise helps to maintain muscle strength, balance and co-ordination.

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If you do fall

  • Try not to panic!
  • If you feel pain, try to attract attention before moving
  • If you cannot get help, try getting to a chair and sit on it before standing
  • If you cannot get up, try to keep warm by covering yourself with something nearby. Tense your leg regularly to produce heat
  • Try to contact a neighbour or relative by banging on a wall or by phoning if possible
  • Inform your GP after a fall. Ask if you can have a referral to the Falls Clinic at the Integrated Community Therapy Team (external link).

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Page last updated:

March 7, 2023

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