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Fear of falling leaves elderly housebound

A fear of falling prevents thousands of people over the age of 75 from leaving the house by themselves, a report shows.

Research by the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) charity found 35% of older people have fallen in the last two years with 32% of those living alone suffering a fall in the last year.

More than one fifth (21%) of those over the age of 75 who have suffered a fall in the last five years said they have now lost their confidence as a result, with 10% claiming they are now “less independent”.

Despite this, 38% did not inform their doctor about their fall.

"These are bleak findings,” said David McCullough, chief executive of WRVS.

“With winter approaching, older people have little confidence to get out and about because they fear they will fall and as this research shows, the psychological effects of worrying about a fall can be as debilitating and devastating as physical injuries.”

The WRVS findings also showed 6% of those over the age of 75 who suffered a fall were unable to get up for an hour or more, and more than one in 20 (7%) believe “nobody would notice” if they were to have a fall “because they don't see anyone for days”.

"Falls can be prevented and it's very important that those who have suffered a fall get the help they need to ensure it doesn't happen again,” said McCullough.

“If councils don't have the financial resources to ensure visits are conducted by falls prevention teams, they should be signposting older people to organisations such as WRVS that can provide support services to help them regain their confidence."