Family doctors, physiotherapists and pharmacists should ask all patients aged 65-plus if they are prone to slipping or tripping, according to new health recommendations.
They should also be asked if they have a history of falling in the past year if they are admitted to hospital or during visits from social care workers.
The new updated quality standard from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) suggests that those who have fallen in the past year are more likely to fall again.
GP's should be regularly asking their pensioner patients about falls, according to new guidance
So older people should also be asked whether they ever lose their balance or feel unsteady on their feet.
And if a health or care worker identifies someone at risk of falling, the older person can be referred to a healthcare professional or service to further assess their risk, Nice said.
One in three over-65s have a fall at least once a year, past research has found.
Every year, around 255,000 older people are admitted to hospitals in England due to falls.
Around 255,000 elderly patients are admitted every year due to falling over Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's Tue, August 23, 2016
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The guidance cautions health and care workers that some older people are “reluctant to admit to falling”.
Asking older people about falls on a regular basis will identify those who are most at risk
Professor Gillian Leng
Professor Cameron Swift, emeritus professor of healthcare of the elderly who helped develop the quality standard, said: “We recognise that regular questions about falls may seem intrusive or repetitive, but older people often think episodes of falling or unsteadiness unimportant, or that to raise them could threaten future independence.
“By contrast, effective measures are now known to reduce the risk of falls, maintain independence and promote ongoing health.
“It’s vital, therefore, that these are offered to those who need them.”
Falling over can result in serious injury and health implications for elderly people
Every year around 30 per cent of people aged 65-plus will slip or trip, according to figures from the Centre for Better Ageing.
Some of the accidents result in serious injury with 57,712 hip fractures in England in 2014/15 and people who have fallen over accounting for more than four million hospital bed days every year.
Last week health and care officials publish a Falls and Fracture Consensus Statement outlining actions that the health, care and housing sectors can take to help prevent older people having falls and fractures.
The guidance aims to seek out and help vulnerable patients at risk
Recommendations include providing exercise programmes such as Tai Chi to improve strength and balance and reducing hazards in the home.
Nice’s deputy chief executive, Professor Gillian Leng, added: “We know that prevention is better than cure when it comes to falls, particularly in older people.
“Asking older people about falls on a regular basis will identify those who are most at risk.
“Through this simple intervention, those people can then be referred to the right health care professional or service to stop them falling in the future.”
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