Guide to reducing your risk of falls

1. Are you at risk of falls?

Falls and fall-related injuries are a common and serious problem for older people. People aged 65 and over have the highest risk of falling, with 30% of people over 65 and 50% of people over 80 falling at least once a year. The human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and mortality.

Falls are preventable and are not an inevitable part of the ageing process. The information in this guide will help you to identify whether you are at risk of falling.

Falls prevention advice and activities

National recommendations from the Department of Health state that, as we get older, in order to get the health benefits of being active we should do the following:

  • Aim to be active daily and try to do at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity a week
  • Do exercises to improve the strength of our muscles and bones
  • Do exercises to help improve our balance and coordination

Taking part in strength and balance exercise can reduce your rate of falls by up to 32% and the risk of falling by up to 22%.

Keeping your balance: reduce your risk of falls

You can also download our leaflet ’Keeping your balance: reduce your risk of falls’, which contains practical steps to help you to stay on your feet. It also features contact details of organisations who can offer you further advice.

To see if you may be at risk of falling, click ‘next’.

2. Falls and medicines

Are you taking four or more medicines?

The number of medicines you take can affect the likelihood of you experiencing a fall.

If you are taking four or more medicines and you haven’t seen your GP in the last year please make an appointment to see them for these to be reviewed.

3. Blackouts and fainting

In the past year, have you experienced:

  • Blackouts
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Waking up to find yourself on the floor?

If you have, but have not yet discussed any of these occurrences with your GP please make an appointment to see them.

4. Falls and eye care

Have you had an eye test within the last two years?

If you answered ‘no’ to the above question, make an appointment with your optician.

If you are over 60 you are entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years. If you are unable to get to an optician’s you may be able to have your eyes tested at home.

Visit the NHS website to find out if you are eligible for a free eye test.

5. Strength, confidence and history of falls

  • Have you fallen in the last year?
  • Do you have problems with your strength and balance when walking?
  • Do you have a fear of falling?

If any of the above apply, please call Health and Social Care Connect on 0345 60 80 191.

The adviser will direct you to services that can help to reduce your risk of falling. This might include:

  • Information and advice
  • Referral for further assessment by a falls practitioner or consultant
  • Setting strength and balance exercises to help improve your mobility and confidence
  • A review of hazards within your home and the offer of equipment or adaptations to reduce your risk

More information and advice

Contact Age UK on 0800 169 6565 to request a copy of their ‘Staying Steady’ leaflet or download it here.

Sign up for free with FutureLearn to take their online course ‘Ageing Well: Falls’, delivered by experts from Newcastle University.

SAGA, along with Public Health England, have produced a leaflet titled ′Get Up And Go’, a guide to staying steady on one’s feet. Information on falls is also available from the falls pages on the NHS website.