Preventing falls in older people: risk factors and primary prevention through physical activity.

John Unsworth, Anthony Mode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Falls among older people represent a major public health issue, which can in part be tackled through an integrated falls service combining both primary and secondary prevention. Many falls can be prevented following comprehensive assessment to identify risk factors and to plan interventions to eliminate them or ameliorate their effect. Community nursing staff are well placed to undertake such risk assessments and can instigate programmes of primary prevention designed to reduce the likelihood of a person falling. Increased physical activity among older people represents one element of a prevention programme. While this is beneficial for the older person's general health and well-being, certain types of exercise can also be used to reduce falls in individuals with muscle weakness, reduced mobility and balance problems. With the exception of balance training the evidence base related to exercise and falls prevention is patchy; Carter et al (2001) suggest that as yet there is insufficient evidence to suggest an optimum exercise programme for falls prevention. Each person should therefore be individually assessed and the results used to identify what type of exercise they might benefit from in order to address a specific risk factor. Once an appropriate form of exercise has been identified, practitioners should put the older person in contact with a physical activity coordinator to assist them in accessing an exercise programme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-220
JournalBritish Journal of Community Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


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