One of the most prevalent issues in old age pertains to the aspect of falling. Older adults, due to several aspects, become more prone to the possibility of falling, which may lead to further injuries. 

How does this fear develop?

           As aforementioned, there are numerous reasons why a person may develop this fear of falling. These may include (but are not limited to): a general overall poor health status, having reduced visual ability, leading an inactive lifestyle, medications (and even polypharmacy), having fallen previously, being frail, and even a general sense of low self-esteem and self-efficacy which leads the older adult to believe that they cannot perform the activity when in reality they would be able to. 

Fear of falling in Older Adults

           Fear of falling becomes a bigger problem for older adults’ health and well-being, as it prevents them from fulfilling their abilities to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). This reduction in performing ADLs leads to reduced strength in motor abilities and even lower muscular and functional strengths. Fear of falling might also lead to social isolation, which is a major issue in old age. 

Consequences of this fear

           Fear of falling leads to several consequences for the general well-being of the older adult. These consequences include (but are not limited to): mental health issues such as mood disorders (depression) and anxiety disorders, a consistent belief that they are not good enough – leading to even lower self-esteem, increased risk of falls, increased risk of being frail, social withdrawal and loneliness, and even higher risk of hospital and long-term care admission. As a result, one can see that this fear has some consequences on older adults, impacting their quality of life.

So, what can we do to fight this phenomenon?

Well, whilst it is important to look at the issues that come about because of this phenomenon, one must continuously advocate for the importance of staying active in old age and engaging in activities that increase strength and confidence – such as Balance Exercises. In doing so, one would be reducing the emotional burdens associated with this phenomenon and promoting healthy and positive active ageing strategies.

Professional Interventions

Community-based intervention programmes are vital for older adults to remain healthy and reduce the risk of falling, which inevitably reduces social withdrawal and isolation. In tandem, healthcare professionals (such as Psychologists, Doctors, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists to name a few professions) should work together to create programmes that work on this phenomenon. 

           The final message is that it is crucial to stay healthy and active. If you think you are suffering from this fear of falling, then please seek help, as it is always available.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here

Mr Yaser Teebi works as a Clinical Psychology Practitioner at Willingness, and works with patients with complex issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic pain, grief and cognitive impairment. Mr Teebi has graduated from the following degrees with Merit: Bachelor of Psychology (Hons), a Master of Gerontology and Geriatrics , and a Master of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, all at the University of Malta. He is currently reading for a PhD in Clinical Psychology and Geriatrics at the University of Birmingham.