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Prevent Falls & Boost Independence: Physiotherapy for Seniors

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, 5 min read

Prevent Falls & Boost Independence: Physiotherapy for Seniors

The UK population continues to age, with over 11 million people aged over 65 in the most recent Census data (2021 Census), which equates to 18.6 percent of the total population. While a fall can happen at any age, it is estimated 1 in 3 over 65 will have a fall, and although not all of these falls will be serious or require medical attention, the risk of having a more serious injury with a fall increases with age due to age-related health conditions such as frailty and arthritis. 

According to the Projecting Older People Population Information the risk of falls requiring a hospital visit for aged 65-69 is 4% and for those aged 70-74 6%. It then increases to 10% for those aged 75-79, and 20% for those aged over 80 years old. This means 1 in 5 over 80 year olds will require a hospital visit in the UK following a fall. This is due to the increased risk factors as we age like muscle weakness, impaired balance and medical conditions.

This blog post will explore the common causes of falls, preventive measures, and the crucial role of physiotherapy in falls management. Additionally, we will delve into the innovative approach of remote physiotherapy for seniors. 

Causes of Falls in the Elderly

Understanding the multifactorial causes of falls is essential for effective prevention. Age-related changes in vision, reduced muscle strength, impaired balance, and chronic medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis contribute to the risks for older individuals. Medications, environmental factors, and psychological issues, like anxiety or fear of falling, further compound this risk.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing falls in the older population involves a holistic approach addressing physical, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Key preventive measures include:

  1. Home modifications: Adapting living spaces by removing hazards like rugs and wires, installing grab bars, and ensuring adequate lighting to enhance safety.
  2. Regular exercise: We lose 10% of our natural strength with each decade after the age of 40, so it is even more important to exercise as we get older to counteract this. Engaging in elderly-specific exercise programs promotes strength, flexibility, and balance, reducing the risk of falls.
  3. Medication management: Regular reviews of medications by healthcare professionals can identify drugs that contribute to dizziness or imbalance, and allow discussion on the best safest options for you.
  4. Vision checks: Regular eye examinations help correct visual impairments, enhancing overall safety.

Physiotherapy for Falls Prevention

Physiotherapy plays a pivotal role in falls prevention, focusing on the unique needs of older individuals. The backward chaining method, exercise, and balance work are integral components of effective physiotherapy interventions.

Backward Chaining Method:

In the case of falls the backward chaining method, endorsed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, is a task-oriented approach that breaks down how to get up from a fall into simpler steps to be practiced. You start the process of getting up from a fall in reverse, sitting on a chair, then standing up, and then going down onto one knee. You then stand back up and sit back in the chair. You then add another step each time, making sure they can always get back up and return to the chair.  By adding another step each time as they are ready they can eventually go from lying to getting themselves off the floor to sitting in a chair. This method helps older individuals gain confidence by mastering one step at a time, and gives them a strategy should they fall alone, and so reduces the fear of falling.

Read more: What's Physiotherapy Benefits and How It Differs from Similar Practices?

Exercise Programs:

Tailored exercise programs for elderly individuals, as recommended by the British Geriatrics Society, aim to improve muscle strength, flexibility, coordination. These programs, often delivered by physiotherapists, focus on functional movements that enhance daily activities, and can be done easily through the day.

Balance Work:

Balance training is crucial for falls prevention. Physiotherapists employ evidence-based exercises to improve postural stability to reduce the risk of falls. Such exercises can be integrated into daily routines to enhance long-term benefits.

Myth Buster

Myth: "Falls are an inevitable part of aging."
Reality: While the risk of falls increases with age, proactive measures, including physiotherapy, can significantly reduce the likelihood of falls in older individuals.

Importance of Self-Management

Empowering older individuals to actively participate in exercise and falls prevention is crucial. Incorporating exercises and lifestyle modifications can foster a sense of control and independence, and contribute to their overall well-being.

eMed Remote Physiotherapy Service

In the era of digital healthcare, eMed's remote physiotherapy service emerges as a valuable resource for seniors. This online platform allows elderly individuals to access tailored physiotherapy interventions from the comfort of their homes. eMed's experienced physiotherapists can listen to concerns and carry out a full assessment in order to provide a  tailored exercise program including balance and strength exercises. 

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Falls prevention in the elderly is a multifaceted challenge that demands a comprehensive approach. Physiotherapy, with its targeted interventions, plays a pivotal role in mitigating the risk of falls and promoting independence. Remote physiotherapy services like eMed provide an accessible and convenient service for older individuals. By combining evidence-based strategies, self-management, and digital healthcare, we can create a safer and more empowering environment for our elderly population.


  1. Age UK. (2022). Falls prevention. []
  2. British Geriatrics Society. (2018). Guidelines for the prevention of falls in older people. []
  3. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. (2020). Falls prevention. []
  4. National Health Service (NHS). (2022). Falls - Causes. []
  5. Yardley, L., Smith, H., & Lear, J. (2002). A randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a multimedia, physiotherapist-led home exercise program for the prevention of falls in older people. Age and Ageing, 31(1), 29–36. []
  6. Sherrington, C., Tiedemann, A., Fairhall, N., Close, J. C., & Lord, S. R. (2011). Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated meta-analysis and best practice recommendations. New South Wales Public Health Bulletin, 22(3-4), 78-83. []
  7. Clemson, L., Cumming, R. G., Kendig, H., & Swann, M. (2004). The effectiveness of a community-based program for reducing the incidence of falls in the elderly: a randomized trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 52(9), 1487-1494. []

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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