Image from

When people think about their health, their immediate concern is to avoid a serious illness that is potentially life-threatening like cancer or a stroke. But what about other things that impact our ability to get ourselves dressed, to use the stairs, to manage without help at home? Who worries about falling, and the possible consequences of a fractured bone? Foot pain is a huge contributing factor in reduced activity and reduced mobility due to an unpredictable pain response when taking steps. This leads people to muscle wastage and confidence problems.  

One-third of people over 65 and half of people over 80 fall at least once a year, leading to around 70,000 fractures. Once you’ve fractured a bone, only 24% of people return to their previous level of movement and independence. Nearly 4000 people died from a fall in 2014. Even if you’re not too badly affected physically, falls can destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence, with around 1 in 10 older people who fall becoming afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.

Falls are an equally disastrous story for the health and social care system. They account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone and the healthcare cost associated with fragility fractures is estimated at £2 billion a year. Falls contribute to local authority care costs of £3 billion residential and £2 billion non-residential each year, with long-term nursing care costs of around  £19,000 per year for an older person affected by a fall.

So falls are a very serious problem, but we can do something about it. The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for older adults say we should do two sessions of strength and balance exercise a week – including informal activities like lifting shopping or doing heavy gardening. Some people might be motivated enough to meet these guidelines without any further help. Many of us will need some advice or help.  Books like Professor Sir Muir Gray’s ‘Sod 70’ series give clear and fun ways to improve your strength and balance.

We have various community centres and opportunities for activities that promote physical activities, social opportunities and well-being. Just click here for more information.

Age Concern Tyneside South would be happy to offer advice and signpost as required, just contact them using this link.