Everyone falls once in a while, whatever their age. However, as we get older, our bodies change and falls can have greater consequences. Every year about a third of people aged over 65 slip, trip or fall over. Some of these falls results in broken bones and hospital admissions. A fall can also reduce your confidence and make you afraid of falling again.
Falls can be defined as ‘an event, reported either by the faller or a witness, resulting in a person inadvertently coming to rest on the ground or another lower level, with or without loss of consciousness or injury’ (Tinetti, 1997).
The risk of falling increases with age and those who have already had a fall are more likely to fall again in the future. Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone; however, falling is not a normal part of getting old.
The good news is that up to 30% of falls are preventable.
There are many ways you can reduce your chances of having a fall and help to keep you strong, active and confident, including; ensuring there are no tripping hazards within the home, wearing appropriately fitted clothing and footwear and keeping physically active. Factors such as certain medical conditions, illness and medications can also have a significant impact on our risk of falling, so it is important to have regular medication reviews.
Not all people who fall need to be seen by a specialist falls service, most health or social care services for older adults also help people who have fallen.
Take the simple check:
- Have you had two or more falls (including this fall) in the last 6 months?
- Are you on more than 4 medications per day?
- Do you have a diagnosis of stroke or Parkinson’s disease or Dementia*?
- Do you have any problems with your balance or mobility?
- Are you unable to rise from a chair of knee height without help?
A Yes response to 2 or more questions indicates that you may benefit from a more comprehensive assessment.
A falls assessment can be provided by the Community Falls Prevention Service, who will provide information and practical advice on simple things you can do to stay steady on your feet.
If your fall was due to a blackout, unexplained cause or dizzy spells then contact your GP first to discuss this.
If you would like more information or advice please contact the Community Falls Team on 0300 300 1712.
Dementia is associated with complex needs and, especially in the later stages, high levels of dependency and morbidity. As the condition progresses, mobility difficulties can lead to falls and fractures (NICE guideline 21, 2004).
Further information is available on our dementia pages.
Improving your strength and balance through gentle exercise will improve your confidence and help to prevent falls.
Staying Steady is an exercise course for older people who have had a fall or who feel unsteady on their feet. The aim of the classes is to improve your strength and balance, and also to help you feel more confident when you are out and about.
Sessions are delivered by a Postural Stability Instructor who has completed specialist training to deliver Falls Prevention exercise classes.
As part of health promotion and falls awareness, there is a short education / advice section with refreshments, which follows each exercise session.
If you do fall, remember these important rules:
- Do not panic.
- Keep calm and take deep breaths. Try to check your body for signs of injury.
- If you are hurt and feel unable to get up try to summon help - reach a phone, call for help – either a friend, relative or neighbour, or 999 if you are injured, or use your community alarm.
- Keep yourself warm – try to reach for something to cover yourself with.
- Keep moving – while waiting on help try and move your fingers and toes to stimulate circulation – if you are able try to adjust your position to avoid pressure in one area.
- If you feel you are able to, try to get up. Use heavy, sturdy furniture for assistance to help pull you up. Move slowly.
- If you have fallen, feel unsteady or are worried about a fall do not ignore it. It is important to let your GP, nurse or other care professional know if you have had a fall, in order to access a falls risk assessment which will meet your individual needs.
Page last updated: 19/06/2017