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Published on 21 June 2010 12:00 AM

Up to one in three (3.4m) over 65s suffer a fall each year, costing the NHS an estimated £4.6 million a day, according to new research out today (Monday 21st June) from Age UK, the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged.

The figures are released to mark the charity’s first National Falls Awareness Week, which runs from today until Friday (25th June) and aims to raise awareness of some simple steps people in later life can take to prevent the devastating consequences of a fall.

Falls remain a major cause of injury and death amongst the over 70s and account for more than 50 per cent of hospital admissions for accidental injury. Evidence shows that specific programmes for improving strength and balance can reduce the risk of falls by as much as 55 per cent. However, with one in five older people admitting that they cannot remember the last time they did any exercise, Age UK is calling for more work to be done.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Despite costing the NHS over £4.6 million each day, adding up to £1.7 billion per year, the issue of people in later life falling over is all too often dismissed as an inevitable part of the ageing process. The reality is that there are a number of things older people can do help prevent falls, such as exercises to improve strength and balance, and more should be done to promote and support this.”

Health and fitness expert and breakfast TV icon Diana Moran is backing Age UK to promote the many benefits of physical activity in later life. Diana who has just released her latest DVD 'Easy Fit' for the over 65s said: "I have always worked hard to promote healthy living among people in later life and to help them make the most of life through exercise. Through the Age UK National Falls Awareness Week I’m hoping to spread the word even further and get people involved in the strength and balance exercise we all need to stay active and independent.”

National Falls Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of the risk of falling in later life and promote prevention methods that can help reduce the risk of falls and fractures. There are over 1,000 falls prevention events taking place across the UK throughout 21st-25th June, offering a range of exercise demonstrations, classes and taster sessions for people in later life to improve strength and flexibility. The Age UK fit as a fiddle programme also offers ideas and information on how to stay physically active during later life – visit our fit as a fiddle web pages for more details.

To find out more about events taking place during National Falls Awareness Week, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/fallsday

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To enquire about case studies of older people who have fallen, National Falls Awareness Week events, or other press enquiries, please contact Lizzie Webster:

Notes to editors

  1. Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. The Age UK family includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI.
  2. The commonest serious injury from a fall is hip fracture, which affects approximately 60,000 people per year in the UK, and costs the National Health Service (NHS) approximately £1.7 billion and results in up to 14,000 deaths, Older People’s Experiences of Falls and Bone Health Services (England), Royal College of Physicians, 2008
  3. About a third of all people aged over 65 fall each year, Don’t Mention the F-Word, Help the Aged, 2005
  4. Specific programmes for strength and balance have been shown to reduce the risk of falls by as much as 60 per cent, Skelton, 2001
  5. One in five older people can’t remember the last time they did any exercise, GfK NOP survey for Help the Aged, 2007

Media contact: Lizzie Webster
Telephone: 0208 765 7516
Email: Lizzie.webster@ageuk.org.uk

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174