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Falls are not a normal part of ageing

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.

Professor Julia Newton and Dr James Frith - lead educators on the free online course, Ageing Well: Falls

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!

To find out more or join the course, visit “Ageing Well: Falls.” Or share your experiences of falls using the hashtag #FLfalls on social media.

Category Learning

Comments (51)

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  • tim

    Keep up the good piece of work, I read few articles on this web site and I think that your web blog is very interesting and contains bands of good information.

  • Pamela

    My mother had a trip and broken her arm. I want to learn and armed with the knowledge to prevent falling.

  • Maria Emilia Pagnozzi de Carvalho

    I have fallen a number of times; as a seventy-six year woman, I am willing to learn more about falls. This course provided some very important information about the issue. I practice some physical exercise, but I should do it more often.

  • rod houghton

    may elll have a interest . WiIL know the next two weeks.

    Regards

    Rod

  • Sarah wheeler

    I’ve learned a bit recently about the importance of strong legs…doing T’ai chi and yoga stretching has helped me a lot especially when I twisted my knee 18mths ago..took a year for that to get better ..helped by the exercises. Looking forward to learning more about other causes and falls prevention

  • Mel Topf

    I am looking forward in taking this course as I have fell a few times; sometimes dizzy or legs giving away. I also blacked out on several occasions. Maybe, this course will help me to determine why I fall and knowing in advance that can happen.

  • Mel Topf

    Hi:

    I did not realize that a course like this, existed. There are so many courses at Future learn, that it takes time to sift through all of them. When I came across this one, my interest sparked up as it does pertain to me and my wife. I hope I can convince her to take this course, also.

  • Doran Raishelon

    Am interested when is it starting

  • C Tippett

    Is this course running again soon? I am very interested in participating when it does!

  • Mary Mac

    Our mother used to fall a lot…I put it down to her glasses…especially as I now wear varifocals. I am always very careful and have not had a fall. But will be interested to know more.

  • Paula Park

    I’m 62. I just found out last year that I have ataxia c.p. (family didn’t share this info, for whatever reason.) I have stumbled all my life. Since finding out about my condition I have sort out some excellent help, grab rails and stair rail. The latest source of real benefit to me is ownership of a pair of custom made orthoses. Once I got used to them, they have significantly improved my life. So help is out there, its just recognising your difficultly and seeking help for ones self, starting with your G.P. Thank you for doing this online course. Best of luck to all.

  • Penny Bissell

    Last year, 2015, I fell over three times in five weeks around July time. I became quite nervous for a few months after that. I am 72 and have always enjoyed sport but I became Type 1 diabetic five years ago after my pancreas was killed off by a gall stone which blocked the pancreatic duct. The diabetes has given me problems with the nerves in my legs and I need to wear orthotics in my shoes. Anyway, life is good and I am still able to play 9 holes of golf and have joined two bowling clubs. Fortunately the three falls didn’t physically cause much harm but were embarrassing. One was in the Musee D’Orsey in Paris, the second was falling off a boat on the Thames and the third was in New York. My doctor recommended I went to the hospital to have a scan of my cerebellum which is the part of the brain that deals with balance but was told that was OK. I still have balance problems but fortunately haven’t fallen since then

  • Ntsapo Livi

    I have fallen for the first time in life at 49 years. I was so surprised and was full of disbelief. My elbow is still very sore.

  • Stephanie Higgs

    I need to do this course after two headlong tumbles down stairs in past month. Fortunately I have got off lightly with bruising and a cracked rib and today my Podiatrist has just adjusted tightness in my right ankle and hip that has probably contributed to my accidents. Brilliant.
    However I shall be away til towards end of September.
    Is there likely to be another course in October?

  • Carol

    This is my third future learn course and I love the whole idea that I can study what I want, where I want and when I want to. 5 weeks ago I had a total hip replacement and am a little nervous of falling and undoing all the surgeon’s (and mine) hard work. So this course has arrived at an ideal time for me : – )

  • Iris Worker

    I’m a relatively recently retired physiotherapist and last year had to have my hips replaced. I’m keen to keep uptodate with the current thinking on ‘falls’ and to see if there is anything new I should be thinking about to manage my situation. I’m also new to this type of learning and so thought a subject I’m familiar with would be a good place to start.

  • Elena Nicolson

    I had fall and as result I broke my ankle. I was wearing hills and I didn’t see the black ice that was on the pavement. I felt very embarrassed. Also my husband has had several falls in the home lately. He has just left hospital after being there for seven weeks. Although he didn’t break any bone, he damaged his hip.
    So, I am looking forward to this course – starting on next week (Mon. 7th Sept.) – and learn more about falls. In particular, how to avoid them.

  • Joe Klement

    Just looking forward to the course and new learning, have gained so much from different modules, thank you all for the work you are doing.

  • Tony Murray

    I did this excellent course last year and would recommend it to anybody who used to be very active but is starting to slow down and has to be more careful crossing roads, going down steps, using moving pavements etc

  • Frank Tate-Sutton

    Hi there,

    I am very keen to participate in this course but I will be in Portugal between 10-17 September. I will have access to wifi and the internet, but will only have an iPad with me. Not having done a course through this medium before, I was wondering how it will work and what I will be required to do with regards to interaction such as typing? This could be possible if I am prepared, which means I can also make you all jealous by letting you know I will be sat by the pool in 30 degree heat.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Regards

    Frank

    • Anne Doyle

      It won’t be a problem. I was away for the start of a course last year. The course will stay online for you to catch up whenever you can.

    • L.A.

      Frank, I did “Falls” last November on my iPad without a problem. It’s a good course 🙂

    • Anne

      Hope you enjoy your holiday Frank ! I have done half a dozen Courses via this medium, all on my iPad.

  • Jill Crook

    My mother has fallen a couple of times recently and completely lost her confidence for going out on her own. This course will help me to understand and help her. Thank you.

  • Brenda Wordsworth

    Having slipped in the shower a couple of days ago and sustaining a hairline fracture of my radius finding this course is very timely. Look forward to finding out more about causes and prevention. Embarrassingly I already practise tai chi regularly, which supposed to help prevent falls!

  • Eliyahu Ezra

    I am passionate to learn more about falls, dizziness, blackout and it’s connection with other part of inside organ like cardiovascular problem. Hoping that during this course we can find solution together to help the older or young community that have a common problem so that we can make this life much easier even ageing without falling.

  • Mary Bergin

    I have always been a bit accident prone – have fractures my wrist, my humerus and recently my ribs

  • Janis Johnson

    I have fallen three times in two months, hitting my head each time. I already have gentamicin ototoxicity and bilateral vestibular hypofunction, plus a host of other vestibular diagnoses. I am interested in learning how not to fall, as it is my biggest fear. More head injuries are not going to be good.

    • Mel Topf

      Hi Janis:

      My name is Mel as shown above and glad to meet you. Just last month, I have fallen twice but I try to break my fall by holding on to something like a wall so as to slide down and not hurt myself. The problem is it is hard to get up.

  • paul ridgeway

    i myself have not fallen over since childhood but my partner has a problem with balance ad im hoping that i can learn something from this course that could help me to help her

  • Jan

    I have had a career in caring for older people and falls were a major risk. I now have elderly relatives who fall and are fearful of falling which hinders their quality of life. I hope to learn how I can advise and help them apart from getting uncomfortable hip protectors for them to wear!

  • Selina Foong

    I’m definitely looking forward for this course.

  • Patricia Nunes

    This will be an interesting course. I know only too well that there are other reasons besides age for having falls.

  • Mairéad

    I’m interested in this course as I feel that sooner or later I’m going to take a tumble. I have lacy bones which don’t augur well for a speedy recovery. So, if doing this course helps me to avoid falling or falling badly, then it may turn out to be the best course I’ve ever done.

    • mary teresa

      I am sorry that you have a bone problems am I right in thinking your “lacy” bones are osteoporosis. If not then sorry, but wouldn’t it be a woderful description. On a personal note I have
      Had above disease over thirty years now amazingly my spine is now considered normal combination of meds and steriod reduction which exacerbated it. That said my balance isvery poor have crutches and still fall regularly. So hope to see if anything else out there as physios etc don’t see long term improvement. Also not yet 60!

  • Ian Hunt

    I am joining this course simply to learn more about the subject. I am now 70 years of age and have (to date anyway) not had any problem with regard to falls but I did do voluntary driving for the NHS for 5 years and was sometimes surprised at the people who needed to attend the falls clinic. Hopefully I will gain enough understanding to be able to avoid ever having to experience this problem myself.

  • wai wai myint

    I am interested in aging process and their affect on body structure as well as functions.

  • Jean

    I’m concerned about the number of falls in Care Homes. Accidents happen, but as you say they can be life changing for older, frailer people, so I’m looking forward to learning about prevention and maybe how technology can help.

  • laura gama

    Hi everybody! I’m in my midsixties and I’ve not broken my bones yet, touch wood! Most of my friends, though younger have broken something: shoulders, wrists, legs, ankles….So I’m really cautious when I’m walking, doing gym, and so on but I’m beginning to consider falls as a sort of doom waiting for me. I’d love to know how I can postpone this event and find out what I can do and also eat and drink to avoid it. Thanks everybody for advice

  • thereseswords

    Really looking forward to this course as I should have an
    Oscar for falling. Thankfully I have only got bruises and scratches but always fall spectacularly. Hopefuly I will learn more about my awkwardness. Also would like to be of help to my elderly father in law who is very unsteady on his feet.

  • Catherine Brownsword

    I’m sitting here nursing a badly sprained ankle and thinking I’m glad I put my name down for this course.

    Oddly I walked about ten miles on Saturday, much of that on ground that had turned into a quagmire but did not fall. The very next day I was walking along a city pavement and fell flat on my face – perhaps due to a slightly wonky paving. It was a graceless and hard tumble to the ground. It seems this course is just what I need.

  • antoinette

    I have several elderly relatives (all in their 80’s) who are now starting to fall quite frequently causing them to lose confidence. Hoping the course can help me help them.

  • Monica Berry

    I am looking forward to this course. Aged 79 (almost!) I’m. not so spry
    nowadays and fear falling in case I should break bones, meaning a stay in hospital or a nursing home. I live alone with no family close by. I guard my independence and I try to be sensible.
    I want to know more about the reason fro falls, consequences and their prevention.

  • Wendy

    I registered for this course to try and help my mother, who has had numerous falls, one of which has left her with quite devastating consequences. I also want to be prepared to avoid ending up like her as I age, if possible.

  • Grahame Martin

    This is one course I would not wish to miss. To paraphrase the old saying about ‘greatness’, the same can be said about ‘awkwardness’ . ‘Some are born awkward, some achieve awkwardness and some have awkwardness thrust upon them’.
    In my case falling has been quite common since birth (1935). In those days I was termed as ‘just awkward’. In older life I have developed in the falling or tripping over habits quite often. After one knee replacement, although trying to be more careful on where I pace my size 10s, it still happens.
    My hope for this course is that it may help me to be more careful. Luckily, I know how to fall well and so far have only managed to break a scapula and have hamstring, and cartilage problems.
    Living in the Hautes Alpes in France, any help on ‘falls in ageing’ is most welcome.

  • Sue Airey

    So far( touch wood) only falls due to tripping up over a very uneven road, but my friend falls on a regular basis….as she says her ankles are weak. So I’m really looking forward to this course.

  • Robert Dyson

    This was useful in itself. I am doing the course to help look after a relative who does not fall but seems unsteady.

  • Lynne

    I too are looking forward to this course. I dont fall regularly but when i do i go with a bang, and its always the right knee that suffers, hope I learn either not to fall at all, or at least to fall better.

  • Trevor

    Looking forward to this. I am now 83 and so far have not fallen and I’d like to keep it that way!

  • Jenny

    I am also looking forward to this course. I have only had a couple of actual falls which resulted in minor injuries but I am not old. At least I don’t consider myself to be, so it will be interesting to see what ‘fall’ actually means.

  • cledward

    I am looking forward to this course. Getting around is a real problem these days.