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Falls prevention messages still not reaching older people

Help the Aged is calling for the government to do more to raise awareness of falls prevention and the importance of exercise for the health of older people, following new research to support the Charity's third National Falls Awareness Day on 26 June 2007. The research shows that 5.3 million (55%) over-65s are unaware that exercise can prevent falls. A further 3.4 million (35%) haven't taken exercise for a year or couldn't remember the last time they had exercised. 
The Charity has themed this year's falls awareness day "Getting out and about" to encourage older people to get active. Over 300 events are expected to take place across the UK, with many run by professionals working with older people including nurses, GPs, falls coordinators, physiotherapists, and care home nurses and managers. The Charity hopes that the day will promote the understanding that falls are not an inevitable part of aging and that being physically active can reduce falls risk.
For over-75s, injuries caused by falls are a leading cause of death. This is why the Charity is keen that falls and bone health messages are communicated more widely and supported by a government backed campaign. Help the Aged is extremely concerned that the 2004 milestone in the 2001 National Service Framework for the NHS and councils to provide fully integrated falls services across the UK has still not been met.   Additionally, the Charity's calls last year for a government-funded leaflet on falls prevention have gone unheeded leaving voluntary organisations and groups to bridge the gap. Help the Aged distributed 410,474 its own Staying Steady leaflet in a year.
Pamela Holmes, healthy ageing manager for Help the Aged, said: "This research shows that messages about exercise in older age to prevent falls have still not infiltrated public consciousness. As falls services are still poor and patchy at best, we feel that the government is simply not committed to the prevention agenda which could save countless lives and millions of pounds spent on caring for those who suffer damaging falls.  The number of events held across the country each year for National Falls Awareness Day shows that those working at grass roots know the value of promoting falls prevention and bone health information to older people." 
Sarah Leyland, helpline supervisor from the National Osteoporosis Society, a partner of National Falls Awareness Day, said: "Remaining physically active as you get older is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of falling, which can result in painful broken bones especially of the hip. Hip fractures are a serious problem for older people often leading to loss of independence, confidence and lasting mobility problems. Many factors need to be tackled to reduce falls risk and exercise is one of the most important."
Professionals who work with older people and would like to hold an event on the day can email to request an action pack. A full list of events is available at