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NHS Kernow’s website closed on 30 June 2022. Visit the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board website for information about our health and care services.

Staying healthy

As we get older there are steps that we can all take to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

Stay healthy at home

  • Take regular exercise, even a short walk or light gardening, to keep muscles strong and joints supple. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while, or you have an existing health condition, talk to your GP first.
  • Have an annual eye check and make sure your glasses are cleaned regularly. Eye tests are free for over 60s.
  • If you take 4 or more medications, ask your GP or pharmacist to review them and ask about possible side effects.
  • Eat more dairy produce, tinned boned fish, green leafy vegetables, pulses and nuts, and try to get a little sunshine (weather permitting!) to increase your daily intake of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Eat regular meals to keep up your strength and energy.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep warm in cold weather.

Above all, if you do have a fall, even if you don’t hurt yourself, tell your GP.

Safety at home

  • Make sure your shoes and slippers fit well and your toenails are cut regularly.
  • Never leave things on the stairs and keep walkways free of clutter.
  • Make sure your home has good lighting, particularly on stairs and steps.
  • Remove trip hazards such as loose rugs, frayed carpets, trailing wires.
  • To avoid dizziness, get out of bed or up from a chair in slow stages and wait a moment before moving away.
  • Fit hand and grab rails where needed, for example stairs, steps or in the bathroom. Age UK or your local handy person scheme may be able to give practical help with this.
  • Keep items that you use frequently within easy reach to avoid bending and reaching.
  • Don’t rush! Take your time moving to answer the telephone or the door.
  • Turn on a light or a torch when getting out of bed at night.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bath.

What to do if you do fall

Call for help

Use your lifeline alarm if you have one, crawl to a telephone, or make a loud noise to attract attention.

Keep warm

Cover up with anything in reach, like a rug, blanket, or towel.

Keep moving

Move the parts of your body that don’t hurt, to relieve pressure. If you are on a hard floor, try to move to an area with carpet or a rug.

Try to get up

If you can, roll onto your hands and knees, crawl to a solid piece of furniture and use it to help you up.

Home hazard assessment

If you are concerned that you, or an older relative, may be at risk of having a fall, or have recently experienced a fall, you can request a home hazard assessment. The assessment will help you identify hazards and get advice on how to deal with them. Contact your local authority and/or GP to see what help is available in your area.

Medication reviews to stay healthy

If you are concerned that the side effects of medication that you are taking is putting you at increased risk of a fall, you can request a medication review with your GP. There may be alternative medications that you can use, the dose of your current medication could be lowered or, in some cases, stopped altogether.

Sight tests to stay healthy

If you are concerned that poor vision is increasing your risk of having a fall, you should make an appointment to have a sight test. Although not all causes of age-related visual impairment can be treated, some can. For example, surgery is an effective treatment for cataracts (a common age-related eye condition where cloudy patches develop over the lens of the eye).

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