Providing the elderly with balance training, adaptations to the home and practice in getting to their feet quickly can dramatically improve falls prevention, researchers said.
Showing people simple techniques to look after themselves can reduce the rate of falls by 55 per cent, they said. Falls for older people are much more likely to prove fatal than in younger age groups, while they can also lead to lengthy hospital stays.
Of the one in four people over 70 who fall each year, almost half are over 80. Half of this group suffer a fall again the next year. But research found that confidence in daily activities and reduced fear of falling over could be brought about by community programmes.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham examined 204 people aged over 60 who were living at home or in residential care as part of the study, published online in the British Medical Journal.
The study found there was a 55 per cent drop in the rate of falls among people given support (3.5 over the following year) compared with the group receiving no help (7.7 falls in the following year).
Overall, 81 people (83 per cent) receiving support reported one or more falls over the follow-up period compared with 96 (97 per cent) in the group receiving no support.