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Preventing a fall

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014

A new online course will provide lessons on how to prevent falls among the elderly. Sarah Zia reports

India, today, is home to a large population of old people with the 2011 census figures indicating a population of over 10 crore aged 60 and above. With growing age, the needs and concerns of this population also undergo a change with falls being one of the major concerns. According to a World Health Organisation report on falls among the elderly in India, falls are ‘geriatric giants’ and ‘an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly’ as well as ‘a marker of poor physical and cognitive status.’ The WHO reports falls as the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide with an estimated 4,24,000 individuals dying from falls globally each year of which over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries.

Given that those who have suffered from falls require special care and the right information, Newcastle University, United Kingdom, has launched a massive open online course (MOOC) titled ‘Ageing Well: Falls’. The four-week course aims to help those who have been affected by falls themselves as well as those who look after elderly suffering from falls. The WHO report points out that most falls have ‘multifactorial causes’ and since falls are preventable, it is important to know potential factors and how to prevent them. According to Julia Newton, dean, clinical medicine, Newcastle University and one of the course leaders, “The course explores why thousands of people fall every day and provides practical advice on how to manage the risk falls. It will enable learners to discover practical methods to reduce the risk of falling and recognise when to seek expert help.”

Course details
During the course, learners will meet people who have been affected by falls through a series of videos. “They will have an opportunity to discuss together the important issues raised and discuss their own experience of falls. In addition, learners will have a chance to engage in discussions with the lead educators via online group meetings,” explains Newton. “The course is taught by leading academics from the university’s medical school and draws on the experience of experts at the Falls and Syncope Service (FASS) of Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.”

Anyone with basic computer skills and an internet connection can participate in the course. Aspirants will be required to dedicate two hours per week to attend the online lectures and complete the weekly coursework.

The course will go live on November 24 with registration being open currently and is being provided online through Future Learn at


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