If you think falls are a normal part of ageing, don’t mention it to Professor Julia Newton. She’s one of the lead educators on Newcastle University’s free online course “Ageing Well: Falls.” Here she explains that people of all ages fall over – but the effects on older people are much worse.
Although falls become more common as we get older, it is important that people do not assume that they are part-and-parcel of the ageing process. It is a frustrating and saddening part of my day job to hear people and patients tell me that they are falling because they are old; even more saddening when it is a health professional who has told them this.
Would we put other conditions that are more common in older people down to ageing? Diabetes, stroke disease and cancer are all more common with advancing years, but we would never put them down to old age.
Falls can occur at any age
In my clinic, I see people who fall anywhere from age 16 all the way up to 111. Where age does start to matter, is when the body becomes less resilient to the effects of a fall. The older body is more likely to sustain an injury and the older mind is more likely to suffer a loss of confidence, both of which can have devastating effects.
At Newcastle University and in the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we run one of the largest and busiest services in Europe for people who have falls, blackouts or dizziness. We also conduct world class research.
Reducing the risk of falls
With this wealth of knowledge and experience, I really want to educate and empower people who fall or are at risk of falling. This is why, alongside my colleague Dr James Frith, I have developed this online course.
The course was designed with people who have been affected by falls. This made sure that everything included is useful and provides loads of practical information. We help people take some really simple steps to reduce their own risk of falling, but also provide tips and advice on how to stay healthy and keep independent.
Let’s dispel this myth about falls being due to old age!