Over-50s ‘more at risk of suffering fall than they think’

People aged over 50 are more at risk of a fall than they think, according to new research. Picture: Getty Images
People aged over 50 are more at risk of a fall than they think, according to new research. Picture: Getty Images
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A SIMPLE test could help over-50s determine whether they are at risk of suffering a fall, according to experts.

Physiotherapists have urged ageing Scots to assess their risk of falling and become more active as a new survey suggests that people in their fifties are understimating the dangers.

Falls are the leading cause of accident-related mortality in people aged 75 and over and cost the NHS £2.3bn per year.

The Saga Populus survey showed just seven per cent of people in their fifties thought they would fall in the next year, yet nearly double that number (13 per cent) had done so in the previous 12 months.

The survey of 9,521 people aged between 50 and 79 years old found that people in all age groups also underestimated their risk, but the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says a simple test can identify whether a person needs to work on their strength, balance and coordination to help prevent a fall.

To coincide with Older People’s Day on October 1, the CSP is launching the ‘Get Up and Go’ video to demonstrate the test, which involves timing how long it takes a person to rise from a chair, walk three metres, turn around, walk back to the chair, and sit down. The video can be viewed at www.csp.org.uk/timedupandgo

Sue Rees, chair of council at the CSP, said: “We need to get past the idea that falls are an inevitable part of ageing. Many can be prevented by remaining active as we get older and doing simple exercises designed to improve strength and balance.

“Equally, however, these figures show why we must recognise that falls are not only suffered by frail older people and that it’s never too early to begin that preventative work.

“Physiotherapists are experts in helping people to be active and avoid falls and it is important that the NHS provides access to prevention services for anyone deemed to be at risk.”

The CSP’s Falls Prevention Economic Model shows that physiotherapy and tailored physical exercise programmes could prevent 225,300 falls, saving the NHS £331 million every year.

On Older People’s Day, physiotherapists will be organising events across Scotland to celebrate active ageing and promote the profession’s role in supporting independent living. Physiotherapy led group exercise programmes have been shown to be effective and to reduce falls by 29 per cent and the risk of falling by 15 per cent and individual exercise programmes by 32 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

More information about physiotherapy’s role in active ageing can be found at http://www.csp.org.uk/your-health/live-long-live-well