Introduction to falls

Most of us will have fallen at some time in our lives. For many, particularly younger people, the fall will be nothing more than a bit embarrassing. For others, a fall can be startling and upsetting. As we get older, falls can become more common and the effect of the fall on our lives can become more serious.

About falls

If you or someone you know has fallen you’re not alone:

One in 3 people aged 65 years or older fall at least once each year. In Scotland, more than 18,000 older people are admitted to hospital each year because of a fall. Falls are the most common reason for an ambulance being called to an older person. There are around 6,000 broken hips in Scotland every year, most of which are caused by a fall.

Falls can lead to loss of confidence and independence – whether or not a person has been injured.

I was never the same after the fall

I suddenly became an old person

I don’t really feel the same person

I was thoroughly demoralised

Participants in Quality Improvement Scotland focus groups 2008.

In spite of this, falls are not an inevitable part of getting older. You can take action to prevent falls.

Preventing falls

Falls are not inevitable and there are lots of practical and simple steps that you can take to reduce your risk of falling. This includes ‘fall proofing’ your home, taking regular exercise, keeping well and seeking further advice and support when necessary.

The exercises have helped me to cope with arthritis in my knees. I believe by strengthening my leg muscles I can walk much further and easier than I did before Invigor8. I feel generally stronger and fitter.

A participant in theInvigor8 exercise classes in Ayrshire.

There are also things you can do to reduce the harm caused by falls, such as look after your bones and make sure help can be summoned quickly if you do have a fall.

Having a falls risk assessment and making practical day-to-day activity and lifestyle changes can help you identify, assess and reduce your risk of falling; improve stability and maintain or improve independence and wellbeing.

Falls prevention is about enabling you to regain your confidence and live as independent and full a life as possible.

If you have a fall

Be sure to discuss the fall with your GP or other health professional, even if you aren’t hurt. Many underlying causes of falls can be treated or corrected.

This resource

Falls Assistant offers the facility to self assess the key falls risks relevant to you and offer appropriate support and self management advice.

This resource has been developed with people who have had falls or are at a high risk of falling along with the local falls support teams. It draws on their collective and personal experiences as well as best practice from elsewhere in the UK and other countries.