Tips to avoid a fall

A stroke can leave you with balance problems. These can be due to many different effects of stroke, including muscle weakness, dizziness and visual field loss.

Find out more about all the causes and treatment of balance problems

If you're worried about falling, we have some practical tips you can try to reduce the chances of a fall.

Organise your home  

  • Keep all floors clear of trailing wires, frayed carpet or anything else you might trip on.
  • Mop up any spills straightaway.
  • Arrange your home so that you are less likely to bump into things. Remove clutter and arrange your furniture so that you do not have to walk around it. Move frequently used items from high cupboards so that they are easily accessible. 
  • Keep your home warm – cold muscles work less well and this can lead to accidents. 
  • Talk to an occupational therapist about getting handrails for the stairs and bathroom. Your GP can refer you to see one.
  • You may want to consider getting a personal alarm. 

Stay focused

  • Often falls happen when people are not paying attention, are thinking of other things or doing several things at once. Try to avoid doing two things at once such as walking and talking on the phone. 
  • Focus on your movements when you are doing anything tricky like turning, going up and down stairs, or getting in and out of the bath or bed. These are all common times when falls happen. Step around carefully when you are turning (rather than twisting), hold on to whatever solid objects are around and take your time. Use aids if you have them and get someone to help if you need to.

Do what you can manage

  • Move at a speed that you find comfortable. Don’t feel rushed by pressures of everyday life to do things more quickly.
  • Ask for help with tasks that you cannot carry out safely, or leave them if they are less important.
  • Remember to use any walking aids, such as sticks or frames that your therapist has recommended. 

Make the most of your vision

  • Use high wattage light bulbs so you can see clearly, particularly around stairs. If you get up in the night, make sure you turn the light on.
  • Have regular eye tests. Wear any glasses that have been prescribed for you. 

Take care of your feet

  • Wear well-fitting shoes or slippers with thin soles, high sides and a good grip. Never walk on slippery floors in socks or tights.
  • Talk to a podiatrist (also called a chiropodist) about any foot problems – these can increase the risk of falls if left untreated. Your GP may be able to refer you to one, or details will be in your local phone book

I’m worried about falling, what help is available?

Most areas offer services to support people at risk of a fall. In some areas this is called a falls service or a falls prevention service. The way services run varies, but they all offer rehabilitation for people who have been injured in a fall and advice on how to prevent falls and injuries in the first place. They will help you address issues including: 

  • Any other conditions you have which may increase your risk of a fall.
  • Reviewing your medication to make sure it is not causing side effects that increase your risk of a fall. If you take long-term medication, it should be reviewed at least once a year, particularly if you take four or more types of medicine a day.
  • Vision problems.
  • Your feet and footwear.
  • Your home environment, to see if there is anything that increases your risk of a fall or whether simple adaptations (like a hand rail for steps, or a seat to help you get in and out of the bath) could help.
  • They may also offer exercises (possibly in a group setting) to strengthen your legs and improve your balance.

If you have fallen or you feel unsteady and at risk of falling and hurting yourself, ask your GP to refer you for help, such as your local falls service. 

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