It’s Normal to Be Afraid of Falling

You are not alone if you are worried about falling in older age

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This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

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    The thought of having a fall can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. As we age, we can feel our bodies changing, you may not feel as stable, strong and active as you once were. This can cause you to worry about your health and what could happen if something goes wrong.

    A survey by Age UK found 36% of seniors they spoke to said falling is at the top of their list of concerns.

    Common Anxieties About Falling

    Many people feel anxiety around falling, you shouldn’t feel alone or embarrassed about having these feelings. Living with anxiety can significantly impact your quality of life as it can make you want to stop doing the things you enjoy.

    Two Common Anxieties Around Falling Are:
    • Fear of falling and breaking a bone
    • Fear of falling and not being able to get help

    By eating a balanced diet and following fall prevention safety measures both of these situations’ chances of happening are greatly reduced. Technology enables you to always be one phone call or button press away from receiving help and a healthy diet improves bone and muscle strength reducing your chance of breaking a bone.

    What Anxiety Feels Like

    You may have experienced small feelings of anxiousness before in your life. Anxiety is our body’s natural reaction to situations of danger, threat and stress. Mild feelings of anxiety often don’t last long and aren’t anything to worry about. However, if your feelings of anxiety are increasing and starting to affect your daily life then you should speak to your GP about them.

    Anxiety can affect you both emotionally and physically.

    Emotional Effects of Anxiety:
    • Feeling unable to relax
    • Feeling like time is going faster or slower
    • Low mood
    • Anger
    • Feeling disconnected from your body (depersonalisation)
    • Feeling a sense of dread
    • Feeling like no matter what you do you can’t stop worrying
    • Worrying you are losing touch with reality
    Physical Effects of Anxiety:
    • Headaches
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Loss of appetite
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sweating
    • Sleep problems
    • Chest pains

    It is important to speak to your GP if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. The longer you leave yourself living with these symptoms the worse they can get.

    What Are Panic Attacks?

    A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety symptoms both emotional and physical. It can be a very unpleasant experience. Most panic attacks last around 5 to 30 minutes, it is less likely but they can also last up to a few hours.

    Severe panic attacks can mimic symptoms of a heart attack; however, a panic attack will not cause you to die, within time symptoms will pass.

    What to Do if You Are Having a Panic Attack

    If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with anxious thoughts, feelings and other anxiety symptoms there are certain things you can do to help yourself cope.

    What to do during a panic attack:

    • Focus on your breathing – take deep slow breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth
    • Focus on your senses – feel something soft that makes you feel relaxed, smell your favourite perfume or listen to your favourite song
    • Talk to someone – Call or talk to someone you are with, let them know what you are experiencing and how they could help to comfort you
    • Remind yourself that how you are currently feeling will pass

    How to Deal With Anxious Feelings

    Every person has their own techniques for dealing with anxious feelings. Finding an activity that you enjoy can take your mind off your thoughts. Learning to challenge your negative thoughts can help you overcome them, try writing down your thoughts and reading them back to help you rationalise them.

    Help Decrease Your Fall Anxiety By:
    • Having a fall safety plan – Having a plan in place for if you do fall will relieve your mind of the worry about not being able to get help.
    • Living a healthy lifestyle – Following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise will make your body strong, healthy and more resilient. You will feel less fragile and know that If a fall does happen you are less likely to get injured.
    • Using safety aids – Having a mobile phone or personal alarm on you at all times can reduce the worry of not being able to get help if you fall.
    • Talking to someone – Talking to someone about your thoughts and feelings can help a lot, it can get a lot off your chest and make you feel less alone.
    • Having a carer – Having a carer to support you with activities you feel anxious about can help put your mind at ease. Your carer will keep you safe and can provide emotional support.
    • Ask yourself, are you overestimating the risk of falling? It’s easy to get caught up in your anxiety and overestimate risks. By asking yourself this question it can cause you to think more rationally and realise you are exaggerating the risk in your mind.

    How Anxious Thoughts Can Affect You

    Negative thoughts can be debilitating, you are less likely to do the things you enjoy and it can result in you becoming isolated.

    Anxiety Can Affect Your:
    • Confidence
    • Relationships
    • Quality of life
    • Daily routine
    • Physical health

    A fear of falling can stop you from walking as much, this can cause your confidence around walking to decline even more. It is important to keep walking places so you are staying active and working your leg muscles. The more you walk the more your confidence may grow.

    Where to Get Support for Your Anxiety

    Talking to someone whether it’s your GP, therapist, friend, neighbour or family member can really help you feel better. A therapist can listen to your thoughts and help you to reflect on them leading to positive changes.