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Fear of falls 'isolates elderly'

25 June 07 23:06 GMT

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are too scared to leave their homes for fear of falling on uneven pavements, according to a survey by Help the Aged.

Some 2.5 million people aged over 65 have fallen due to poorly maintained pavements, the research suggested. Over 30% ended up in hospital.

The charity surveyed 1,095 people to mark National Falls Awareness Day.

It is urging older people to send postcards to local councils highlighting problem zones.

"Dangerous paving is risking the lives of our older generations and stopping millions from leading independent and healthy lives," said Pamela Holmes, a spokeswoman for the charity.

"For many once a fall has taken place, it limits normal day-to-day activities because of fear of a re-occurrence. This leads to isolation and a poor quality of life."

Nearly 60% of those polled said they went out of their way to avoid routes that may have faulty or damaged pavements, while 22% said that better paving would help them to be more active.

Falls are the leading cause of death for the over-75s.

The Department for Transport said in recent years the funding to local authorities for investment in roads and pavements had greatly increased.

"In 2007-8 the government provided councils with £683m, up from £265m in 2000-1. This is in addition to funding provided for specific major improvements and on top of money for routine maintenance."

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