Overview

Falls

This information is for people who have had a fall or several falls, or who are worried about falling. It's also for family members or carers of people who have had a fall.

The information helps you to understand why you might fall and how to prevent falling. We also have details about services that can help you to manage and get support.

Why you might fall

Controlling your balance is an important part of how you move and manage independently.

As you get older, it becomes more difficult to keep your balance when you do everyday activities. They could include:

  • walking
  • bending down
  • getting in and out of chairs, beds and baths

The natural ageing process makes you react more slowly to changes in body position. This means that you are slower to correct your balance.

Your balance might be affected by:

  • low blood pressure when you stand up (postural hypotension)
  • some medicines
  • muscles and joints that are not strong and flexible
  • your brain not being able to process information to keep you balanced
  • poor eyesight
  • inner ear infections
  • stiff joints
  • muscle weakness
  • poor posture (the position of your body when standing or sitting)
  • alcohol
  • conditions or injuries that affect the nervous system, such as a stroke or Parkinson’s disease

Improving your balance and preventing falls

There are different ways that you can improve your balance and prevent falls.

Talk to your GP

This is an important starting point if you have fallen over, or feel weaker or dizzy.

A GP can:

  • review any medicines that you take
  • investigate any symptoms
  • give you advice about preventing falls

Staying safe at home

Changing your home environment could help to make daily life easier or reduce any hazards that could cause trips.

You can also think about getting a personal alarm that you wear or having a fall detector fitted. This equipment calls for emergency help if you have a fall in your home.

Read about staying safe at home.

Eye tests and hearing checks

Regular eye tests and hearing checks can find conditions that might make you more likely to fall.

Read about having eye tests and hearing checks.

Keeping active and using a walking aid

An active lifestyle, including exercising or moving around to do daily activities, can improve your muscle strength. It can also help with your balance and flexibility. This helps to prevent falls.

To keep active, you might need to use a walking aid.

Read more about keeping active and using a walking aid.

Keeping your feet healthy

Foot problems and shoes that do not fit well can contribute to falling over. It's important to look after your feet and choose footwear that does not cause problems.

Read more about keeping your feet healthy and choosing the right footwear.

Eating and drinking well (nutrition)

Good nutrition can help to improve your bone and muscle strength, and prevent falls.

Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is more important as you get older. This is because you lose muscle mass (the amount of muscle in your body), which affects your strength.

Read more about eating and drinking well.

Urinary incontinence (leaking urine by accident)

Peeing when you do not mean to can make you more likely to have a fall. There are several possible reasons for this. You might rush to get to the toilet or feel tired during the day because you cannot sleep well at night.

Managing urinary incontinence can help to make you less likely to fall.

Read more about urinary incontinence.

Overcoming your fear

It's common to feel anxious after having a fall. This might stop you doing your usual activities. If that happens, you might lose general body strength, balance and stamina. In turn, you might be less stable when walking and more likely to have another fall.

Read more about overcoming a fear of falling.

Local support

Strength and balance classes

Our strength and balance classes are for people who have had a fall or who are worried about falling.

Trained instructors lead the classes. They involve a programme of exercises designed to improve your strength, balance and confidence when walking.

We hold the classes 1 time each week at places across Lambeth and Southwark. Each class lasts 1 hour.

We offer the classes together with King’s Health Partners. By coming to these classes, you can expect to:

  • feel more steady when walking
  • improve your strength and balance
  • find it easier to manage daily activities, such as housework, shopping or gardening

To find out more about our strength and balance classes, please:

Resource number: 5320/VER1
Last reviewed: September 2022
Next review due: September 2025

A list of sources is available on request.

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Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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