Fear of having a fall

We are all at risk of falling. 

As we get older or if we have a medical condition that affects our mobility or balance, we may become more at risk of having fall.

Mrs Brown had some health problems but she had an active life and few worries. However, one evening she got up too quickly from her chair and fell and broke her hip. Her hip healed and she started walking again with the help of a physiotherapist. However, she took longer to recover from the emotional impact of the fall. Mrs Brown was very worried about falling again and she became tense and shaky when she went outside. So she stopped going to the shops and meeting up with her friends.  As a result she became lonely, bored, nervous and low in confidence. Her main problem now was her fear of falling again.

Fear of falling is very common and does not depend on how bad a fall you have had or even if you have ever fallen!

It depends on how much you feel at RISK of falling.

Some anxiety about falling is normal and can protect you from future falls by making you cautious.  However, it can become a problem if we OVERESTIMATE our risk of falling and avoid activities unnecessarily.   If we do this too much, our quality of life decreases and we can become low and anxious.   We can also lose fitness which actually puts us a more risk of future falls.
There a lots of things you can do to minimise your risk of falling and manage the fear of falling:

  1. Remove environmental hazards
  2. Treat medical conditions that cause falling
  3. Eat and sleep well
  4. Keep mobile, exercise
  5. Do not avoid certain tasks unless you are medically advised to do so
  6. When walking – go slow and concentrate
  7. Do one thing at a time
  8. Use breathing techniques & self-talk to reduce physical signs of anxiety
  9. Have a plan of what to do if you do fall

See the below for information, techniques and resources that can help you with these things

Wellbeing and Lifestyle

Relaxation exercises

Tools to help change your thinking

NHS Inform How to deal with anxiety about falling

NHS (Central London Community Healthcare Trust) Leaflet on Fear of falling and anxiety

How to prevent falls - a guide from an Australian-based physiotherapist