What are older people prepared to do to avoid falling? A qualitative study in London

Br J Community Nurs. 2003 Apr;8(4):152, 154-9. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2003.8.4.11190.


Falls prevention strategies form a significant part of recent government policy relating to older people. In this article we report a qualitative study to examine the extent to which older people are willing to adopt any of the following strategies in order to avoid falling; balance and lower limb strengthening exercises, home safety advice, and 'taking care'. A sample of community-dwelling inpatients who were more or less afraid of falling were interviewed. Some older people blamed their own unsafe behaviour rather than hazards in their home for falls, so taking care (moving slowly, holding on, being vigilant to and avoiding danger) was a widespread strategy. The benefits of exercise in falls prevention were poorly understood and there was little enthusiasm for exercising especially if it was perceived to be inappropriate in old age or painful. Awareness of home hazards and taking measures against them was common but home visits tended to be regarded as intrusive. Inadequate negotiation about adaptations was widespread and led to resentment and unwillingness to cooperate. Building on the widespread 'taking care' strategy may help educated older people in safe behaviour. Health professionals should encourage older people to exercise and when making home safety visits should confer with their clients, taking their preferences about adaptations into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Home / psychology
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Floors and Floorcoverings
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Protective Devices
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires