Staying safe at Christmas: six tips for a fall-free festive season

Head of Research and Clinical Development at Bupa UK
09 December 2016

Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us will be looking forward to getting together with family and friends over the holidays. But the season of merriment and goodwill comes with risks, especially for older people who may be prone to falls.

The last thing you want is a wait in A&E while the turkey gets cold at home! So if you’ve got older friends or relatives visiting this Christmas, here are some simple things you can do to help them stay safe.

Someone's booted feet in a frosty field


While you’re getting your home neat and tidy ready for your guests, make an extra effort to declutter as much as possible. Items left lying around can be trip hazards, so make sure the floor is clear of any odds and ends. After opening presents, you may feel exhausted and need a bit of a sit-down. But take a moment to clear away the gifts (and all the wrapping paper!) first.

Avoid slippery slippers

Make sure your guest has some appropriate footwear to have on around the house. Big fluffy slippers may look warm and cosy, but the most important thing is that they have good grip on the soles. This will help your guest to avoid slipping. Also, make sure they fit well, are supportive around the whole foot and have a back so that they don’t come off easily.

Tread carefully outdoors

If you’re heading out for a Christmas walk, make sure you plan this properly. Go somewhere where the ground is flat and there will be paths clear from ice, snow and sludge. Don’t make the walk too long, so you can go at the pace your guest is comfortable with. Again, make sure they have appropriate footwear with good grip. If they use a walking stick, you can get a snow and ice grip attachment that goes on the end. There’s a stocking present sorted!

Steady on the Christmas spirits

For some people, Christmas and the odd drink go hand-in-hand. But make sure your guest doesn’t overindulge. Just a little alcohol can affect someone’s coordination and judgement, increasing the risk of a fall. Nobody wants to be a party pooper, but keep a discreet eye on your guest’s alcohol intake, and offer a soft drink instead if necessary.

Keep the kids calm

If you have young children, or there are some visiting for Christmas, make sure they’re aware of the risks and behave sensibly. They’ll understandably be excited at this time of year, but to avoid accidents, tell them to be careful around your older guest.

While you’re busy slaving over the stove, older children may be able to keep an eye out for you, making sure your guest is getting about safely. They could even help out by fetching things for them while they’re sitting down so they don’t need to walk about too much.

Don’t rush

Let your guest do things at their own pace. If you hurry them into things like getting ready or sitting down for meals, they’re more likely to lose balance and fall.

These are just little things, but they can go a long way in ensuring that you and your guests enjoy a fun, festive, fall-free holiday season.

I hope you have a happy and healthy Christmas!

Paul Edwards
Head of Research and Clinical Development at Bupa UK

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