Take this simple test to work out if you need to discuss your risk of falls with your GP
This self-assessment is based on the Falls Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) used by healthcare professionals to help identify at risk patients aged 65 and over.
The test can help uncover any health issues that might make you more likely to fall, which you can discuss with your GP.
Your fall test score
If you have had a fall in the last 12 months or answered "Yes" to two or more questions in the test then you are advised to discuss your risk of falls with your GP. If they feel that you are at risk of falling they may refer you to specialist falls services.
Fall risk test
You are more likely to have another fall if you have fallen in the last year. A previous fall can also make you overly cautious and lead you to restrict your activities and even avoid leaving your home. A fear of falling can start to become a serious worry and can be quite difficult to deal with, if not addressed quickly.
Taking 4 or more medications significantly increases the risk for falling because of the side effects associated with multiple medication use. You should see your GP if you haven't had your medicines reviewed for more than a year. Your GP may recommend alternative medications or lower doses if appropriate.
Falls are common after a stroke mainly because of leg weakness, sensory loss, and foot, eyesight and balance problems. Up to 73% of stroke survivors experience a fall in the first 6 months after leaving hospital.
If you have Parkinson's, the reasons you fall may include poor balance, taking steps that are too small or that vary in size, or because your arms don't swing when you walk. Involuntary movements, which are a side effect of some Parkinson's medication, can also be a reason.
To help you answer, try these simple tests:
Can you walk while talking? Try answering random questions while walking with someone. If you stop walking either immediately or as soon as you start to answer a question, you should answer "Yes" to the question.
Do you sway significantly while standing? Get someone to observe you standing upright. If you raise your arms or adjust your foot placement for balance, you should answer "Yes" to the question.
Take your weight on to one leg and try to lift the other foot off the floor by about an inch (allow a few practice attempts). If you struggle to balance on one leg, you should answer "Yes" to the question.
The "Timed Up and Go" test:
- Stand up from the chair
- Walk 3 metres (10 feet) at your normal pace
- Walk back to the chair at your normal pace
- Sit down again
If you take more than 12 seconds to complete the Timed Up and Go test, you should answer "Yes" to the question.
You should be able to stand up from a chair of knee height without using your arms. If you feel unsteady, lightheaded, dizzy or even feel faint after getting up, it could be a sign of low blood pressure.
Postural hypotension (or orthostatic hypotension) is when your blood pressure drops when you go from lying down to sitting up, or from sitting to standing. When your blood pressure drops, less blood may reach your organs and muscles. Lowered blood pressure can make you more likely to fall.
For more fall prevention tips download Get Up and Go: A Guide to Staying Steady (2MB pdf).