1. ITV Report

Fear of falls has 'devastating' psychological impact on older people

WRVS is urging older people to get in touch if they are scared about falls Photo: ITV News Wales

6,300 people in Wales over the age of 75 won't leave their homes on their own because they are scared about falling. That's the findings of a report published on Wednesday by older people's charity WRVS.

The research found that among people in Wales over the age of 75:

  • 25% have fallen in the past two years
  • 19% who have fallen in the past five years have lost their confidence as a result
  • 9% who have fallen in the past five years say they are less independent as a result
  • 52% say they feel much more vulnerable to falling in the winter

500 older people around the UK were interviewed last month for the survey. 125 of them were in Wales.

These are bleak findings. 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. But there are solutions available; because we know that services such as those provided by our volunteers help older people live happy, healthy and independent lives. We would urge anyone who isn't feeling confident about going out to get in touch with us as we can arrange a volunteer to accompany them on trips to the shops or to social events or for volunteer-run transport services that will give them back their independence and quality of life.

– Sally Rivers, Head of WRVS services in Wales

The research also found that people living on their own are much more likely to have a fall. It reports the physical impact falls can have on older people, but focuses particularly on the "devastating" impact on the mental wellbeing of older people, highlighting how falling or the fear of falling can lead to isolation and loneliness.

WRVS is urging older people to get in contact, to it can provide support through its 40,000 volunteers.

The NHS has issued advice on how to prevent falls happening. It says changes around the house, such as these, can stop older people having falls:

  • Mopping up spillages straight away
  • Removing clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
  • Using high-wattage light bulbs in lamps and torches so that you can see clearly
  • Wearing well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle

David Wood reports.