The British Geriatrics Society has recently announced a joint commitment, along with 16 other European organisations, to promote active ageing through the prevention of falls.
This has culminated in a campaign that is being dubbed ‘Stay Strong, Stay Steady’.
Led by the ProFouND network, based at the University of Manchester, the campaign has been timed in order to mesh with the UN’s International Day of Older Persons.
The 17-member action plan, developed in the framework of the three-year EC-funded ProFouND project, aims to:
• Increase the visibility of fall-related injuries amongst older people.
• Share good practice in promoting active lifestyles and falls prevention, and advocate for long term EU, national, regional and local level facilitated community programmes in these areas.
• Enhance the quality of data on fall-related injuries, to make comparison and evaluation easier across different countries and regions.
• Support national member organisations in integrating appropriate education and training modules for professional development and vocational training.
• To help professionals working with older people across health, social care, urban design, public transportation, fitness and other areas to understand and cover falls prevention in their work.
• Expand and further develop Fall Awareness Campaigns at national and European level.
Organisations including the British Geriatrics Society have compiled and underlined important evidence related to falls, which indicates that they should no longer be considered an inevitable part of ageing.
The joint action plan aims to increase healthy life by two years for older people in Europe by 2020, as a result of reducing the number of preventable falls that elderly people experience.
Speaking on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society, Professor Adam Gordon outlined the value of this initiative.
“We now know of a range of interventions proven to reduce the risk of falls, ranging from specific types of exercise, physiotherapy, adaptations to living environments and changes to lifestyle, care practices and medications. The problem is that we don’t always deliver these to people who are most at risk of falls. The ProFouND initiative challenges us as a society to be more ambitious about making sure those at risk of falls get the evidence-based care that they need. This is a very positive step forward,” Gordon commented.
Dr Emma Stanmore, from The University of Manchester, indicated that people from all backgrounds have a role to play in raising awareness of this issue.
“Everyone can help to reduce this preventable and serious problem and the first step is to break the myth that falls are unavoidable. With some simple methods such as helping more older people to undertake regular strength and balance exercises, and safety checking their homes, over a million falls could be prevented each year,” Stanmore stated.
Falls are one of the major health threats in older age, more common than both strokes and heart attacks.
Yet despite the serious consequences involved, the risks of preventable falls are often overlooked.
One-third of people over 65 who live outside of care will fall each year; this increases to 50 per cent above the age of 80.