A simple accident like tripping on a rug or slipping on a wet floor can change your life. If you fall, you could break a bone, which thousands of older adults experience each year. For older people, a broken bone can also be the start of more serious health problems and can lead to long-term disability.
If you or an older adult in your life has fallen, you’re not alone. More than one in four people age 65 years or older fall each year. The risk of falling — and fall-related problems — rises with age. However, many falls can be prevented. For example, exercising, managing your medications, having your vision checked, and making your home safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.
Many older adults fear falling, even if they haven’t fallen before. This fear may lead them to avoid activities such as walking, shopping, or taking part in social activities. But staying active is important to keeping your body healthy and actually helps to prevent falls. So don’t let a fear of falling keep you from being active! Learn about what causes falls and how to lower your risk of falling so you can feel more comfortable with staying active.
Many things can cause a fall.
Your eyesight, hearing, and reflexes might not be as sharp as they were when you were younger.
Certain conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or problems with your thyroid, nerves, feet, or blood vessels can affect your balance and lead to a fall.
Conditions that cause rushed movement to the bathroom, such as incontinence, may also increase the chance of falling.
Older adults with mild cognitive impairment or certain types of dementia are at higher risk of falling.
Age-related loss of muscle mass (known as sarcopenia), problems with balance and gait, and blood pressure that drops too much when you get up from lying down or sitting (called postural hypotension) are all risk factors for falling.
Foot problems that cause pain, and unsafe footwear such as backless shoes or high heels, can also increase your risk of falling.
Some medications can increase a person’s risk of falling because they cause side effects such as dizziness or confusion. The more medications you take, the more likely you are to fall.
Safety hazards in the home or community environment can also cause falls.