Skip Navigation

Falls and Balance – Part 1

7 days to go

Falls are incredibly common but increase as we age.  Every year in the UK more than a third of people over the age of 65 will fall at least once suffering anything from simple bruising to fractures and even death.  Falls are the main cause of loss of confidence and reducing activity and also loss of independence and ultimately the need for residential or nursing care. The cost of falls is huge to the health and social care systems. For example hip fracture, which is the most common serious injury for older people and also the most common reason for emergency surgery, costs health and social care around £2bn each year.

Often, if we fall, we feel embarrassed about it and look about to see if anyone noticed. We may not even tell anyone it happened but even it’s a fall without injury it’s still a fall and worth considering why it might have happened. Was it a slip, did you trip over something, a loss of balance, dizziness or entirely unexplained? Another way of looking at it is, was it an accident or non-accident? Is this a one off or have you fallen a number of times?

I’ve had a few falls and injuries myself this year, once on a snowy and icy hillside, once on black ice on the road and once on a steep and loose mountainside. Each of these was an accident and unless I’d stayed at home, I couldn’t have avoided them.

We should always take a few moments to understand why we’ve had a fall and if there’s anything we could do to prevent it happening again.  However, one of the challenges we have in assessing falls is that they are rarely straightforward as they can result of an interplay between objects in our environment such as a cat and our own ability to prevent the fall. These personal factors might include a health condition, our vision not being good enough to see the cat, our balance, muscle strength, flexibility, coordination, speed of reaction and ultimate postural response to be able to side step it or step over it.

Each of these personal factors can suffer age-related change but the good news for many of us is there are things we can do to delay or minimise those changes even in the presence of long-term health conditions.

We’ll look at those in part 2.



You're never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream