As we get older we start to lose muscle strength, losing up to 30% between the ages of 50 and 70 years and this can make falls more likely.
Even just one fall can cause a lot of pain and distress and have a huge impact on self confidence. You might find yourself starting to withdraw from activites that you enjoy and feeling more dependent on others.
Lots of factors can put you at greater risk of falling- national guidelines recommend that you think about all of the following to protect yourself and help improve your recovery if you do fall:
- Your diet- try to eat well and reduce your alcohol intake.
- Stay active- try to exercise for 30mins five days a week.
- Stay connected- meeting other people and keeping in touch with your community will help lift your mood and keep your brain active.
There are also ways to make your home safer and to reduce your risk of falling.
Click here for Saga's guide 'Get Up and Get Go' with suggestions for a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle that will help keep you fit and independent.
It is important to see your GP if you have had a fall, or are starting to feel unsteady as they can review your medication and advise you on the best physical activities and changes for you.
If the thought of a full exercise session seems daunting don't be discouraged, even 10 minutes of exercise will be beneficial to your health. Gardening, housework, walking and seated exercise all count towards meeting your physical activity goals and will help to strengthen your muscles.
There are lots of different options to help you get active in Reading whatever your level of ability. As well as improving your fitness it's a great way to meet new people and find out more about your local community.
Try to include at least 2 days a week of strength and/or balance exercises as these can help you to stay active and make you less likely to fall.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has developed an online animation showing a short series of safe and effective exercises to increase muscle strength and reduce the likelihood of falling. Watch the video here
If you have a health condition such as obesity, depression, asthma or MS you may be eligable for the Pathyway Exercise Referral Scheme.
Here is a small selection of what is on offer in Reading;
AgeUK Berkshire: a varied programme of low cost activities with something for everyone! There are sessions available across Reading. AgeUK Berkshire Stay Active
Creative Support: Movement to Music- 45-60 minutes of activities such as sing along songs, parachute activities and movement. Refreshments and cake are also included in the cost. Suitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. Creative Support
Park 60s Exercise and Dance to Music: Sessions designed to help reduce falls, back pain and osteoperosis. Exercise and Dance
Indian Community Centre: offers seated exercise 5 days a week including seated yoga. Indian Community Centre Exercise Programme
Globe lunch club: a lunch club with a special focus on the needs of older African and Carribean adults, providing seated exercise sessions. Globe Seated Exercise and Lunch
The Community Falls Prevention Team can help you to identify and address any risks before they become a problem, so that you can continue to enjoy life as you want. They also offer home visits.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
The fire service can provide free home visits to anyone who is either: over 65, has reduced mobility, recieves support from social services or other care agencies, has a sight or hearing impairment or recieves oxygen treatment at home.
They can provide advice on how to leave your home safely in an emergency and how to reduce hazards in the home.
Home Fire Safety Check Freephone 0800 587 6679 Book your home visit now
Medication will help you to stay well but sometimes the side effects can cause you to feel dizzy or off balance. If you experience this, talk to your GP or pharmacist so that they can help you.
Regular eye checks can also help to reduce your risk of falling, speak to your optician if you think you’re due a test or if you’ve noticed changes in your eyesight.
An assistive device is anything that helps to make your daily life a little bit easier, with lots of products to choose from; ranging from hand rails to electronic technology. There are options to suit different needs and budgets and you may be surprised at the range of choice available and how discreet some items are.
You will still want to know that you are investing in the best product for you, and you may need someone to demonstrate how to get the best use out of it. It is advisable to speak to a professional before making a purchase.
A selection of options are listed below.
For additional information and to discuss your individual needs please call Adult Social Care on 0118 937 3747
Age UK Berkshire: The Handyperson service can fit hand rails, key safes, intercoms and smoke detectors as well as completing a range of other minor adaptations. The cost is £25 per hour, plus the cost of materials. You may be able to access this service through the council. AgeUK Berkshire Handyperson Service
Redland Healthcare: Provide a range of household and mobility aids. Redland Healthcare
NRS Healthcare: Provide a range of household and mobility aids.NRS Healthcare
Forest-care: Provide telecare solutions such as pendent alarms, sensors and keysafes. The service is based in Bracknell but open to Reading residents. Forest-care
Lots of falls happen at home or in the garden but there are ways that you can reduce your risk of falling. Please see the advice below:
- Have a look around your home for anything that could cause you to trip. Keep your floors, walkways and steps clear and remove any objects that could get under your feet. Don't foget that rugs can slip and also become a trip hazard. It might be better to remove them altogether or to stick them down so they cannot move.
- Check your cables and make sure they are not trailing across the floor. The fire service can also help you to check the safety of your electric cables if you ask them for a home visit. Book your home visit now
- Consider re-arranging cupboards and shelves so that the items you use the most are easy to reach- include your fridge and freezer as well!
- Dim lighting can increase your risk of falling, pay particular attention to lighting in areas with steps or uneven levels.
During the winter months wet and slippery paths and colder conditions can make falls more likely. Keep your home at a minimum of 18 degrees, eat regularly and remember that it is still important to keep hydrated. If you are struggling to keep your home warm enough please contact our Winter Watch team for help.
- Good fitting shoes and slippers with a grip on the sole and a full back will also reduce your risk of falling. It’s important to look after your feet, you can get a check-up and foot-care from:
- If you do fall, you might need to call someone for help. It’s a good idea to make sure you always carry either a mobile phone or a pendant alarm even in the garden.
- Have a look at our assistive devices section, there are lots of ways to make your daily tasks a bit easier without having to make big changes.
If you fancy a change from cooking or want a break from the shops, you could get your meals delivered.
If you would like to get out of the house, treat yourself to lunch at a local club where you can also meet some old or new friends. There are lots of local groups available for you to try, you can search this website or contact the public health and wellbeing team for advice:
Telephone: 0118 9374399 Email: email@example.com
If you think you might need some extra support contact AgeUK Reading and they will help you to arrange transport and find the best group for you.
A disability or long term health condition may make you feel you can't take part in physical activity.
Click here for some workouts from the MS Society- they are for all adults and you can choose the level that's right for you including wheelchair workouts.
Making physical activity a daily habit can contribute to quality of life in the following areas:
- Improves mental health
- Makes maintaining a healthy weight easier
- Makes daily tasks easier and increases independence
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Improves fitness
- Improves mobility and balance
- Helps to prevent chronic disease
- Creates opportunities to meet new people and feel part of the community
You can download a copy of the info-graphic: Physical activity for disabled adults produced by the Department of Health and Social Care from the web-page below:
Your easy to use Fall-Proof resources contain tips on how to improve your strength and balance to maintain independence, keeping you moving and doing the everyday things you love to do.
This video shows six simple exercises to help you stay active. Alternatively, if you would like a hard copy guide which details the exercises outlined in the video (or you know someone that might benefit but doesn’t have access to a computer/the internet) please contact the Public Health and Wellbeing Team on 07811 026070 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to talk to someone about the exercises before having a go yourself, please contact Get Berkshire Active:
Nick Rance: 07702 892518
Kirsty Heath: 07394 564540