Facts on falls - Queensland Stay On Your Feet
This section defines a fall, provides statistics about falls, identifies factors that place someone at risk of falling, and what can be done to prevent falls and minimise harm caused by falls in older people. On this page, you will find some fast facts about falls and falls prevention in Queensland.
Read more detailed statistics on falls
What is a fall?
The World Health Organisation defines a fall as "inadvertently coming to rest on the ground, floor or lower level, excluding intentional change in position to rest in furniture, wall or other objects" 31. Falls in older people cover a wide range of events, including:
- trips on raised obstacles (eg. loose rugs, cords, mats) or uneven surfaces (eg. footpaths, roads)
- slipping on wet or highly polished surfaces
- tumbles and stumbles down steps or stairs
- falling off a ladder or stepladder
- falling over in a shopping centre or while using public transport.
What a fall is not
Falls in older people are not accidents. Similarly, falls are not an inevitable or unavoidable part of life. The word 'accident' has several meanings including ‘anything that happens by chance without an apparent cause’ 32 or ‘an event without apparent cause, unexpected event, chance, mishap’ 33. The causes of a fall can usually be identified and the sequence of events leading up to the fall can be predicted and therefore can be prevented.
Fast facts: Falls for Queenslanders aged 65 years and over (2007-08)