Are you at risk of falling?

Take this simple test to work out if your risk of falling is considered ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’.

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.

Based on long-term studies on falls, FRAT has shown in good quality trials to be effective at reducing the incidence of falls.

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

Your risk of falling, tripping or slipping is considered:

  • Low if you answer ‘No’ to all the questions in the test, or answer ‘Yes’ to only one question.
  • Medium if you answer ‘Yes’ to two questions in the test. You are advised to discuss your risk of falls with your GP.
  • High if you answer ‘Yes’ to three or more questions in the test. Your GP may refer you to a specialist falls clinic.

Fall risk test

Have you had a fall in the last 12 months? Yes / No
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.

Are you on four or more medications a day? Yes / No
Taking four 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.

Do you have Parkinson’s disease or have you had a stroke? Yes / No
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 six 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.

Do you feel unsteady or have problems with balance? Yes / No
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:

  1. Stand up from the chair
  2. Walk three metres (10 feet) at your normal pace
  3. Turn
  4. Walk back to the chair at your normal pace
  5. 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.

Do you struggle to get up from a chair? Yes / No
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 can go to your organs and muscles. This can make you likely to fall.

For more fall prevention tips download Get Up and Go: A Guide to Staying Steady (PDF).

Page last reviewed: 17/02/2015

Next review due: 17/02/2017

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