27 Causes of Falls Among Seniors - Free Fall Prevention Guide

The CDC reports multiple statistics about falls, including this: "Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death.  

They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma" (emphasis added). One of the most effective means of fall prevention is activity, including strength-bearing exercises that help the muscles, joints, and bones work properly. However, falls can have causes that cannot be addressed through a fitness regime.
The major reasons seniors fall are due to:

Cognition Problems
Vision Problems
Gastrointestinal Problems
Cardiovascular / Respiratory Problems
Joint / Muscle Problems
Foot Problems
Complex Factors
Environmental Problems

Cognition Problems
Drug’s side effects or skipping medication
Polypharmacy (taking four or more medications)
Slowing reaction time

Vision Problems
Needing new glasses
Inability to judge distances

Gastero-Intestinal Problems
Low-blood Sugar from diabetes/hypoglycemia
Alcohol intake

Cardiovascular / Respiratory Problems
Low-blood pressure (postural hypotention)
Arrythmia and other heart problems

Joint / Muscle Problems
Arthritis in hands, hips, legs
Hip replacement
Knee replacement
Muscle wasting from inactivity
Parkinson’s disease

Foot Problems
Poor foot care
Ill-fitting shoes

Complex Factors
Some risks are a combination of changes in many of these body systems, resulting in a change in cognition, sensing, balance and gait—such as when someone suffers a stroke or if they accrue several age-related problems in the body such as diabetes, arthritis, and polypharmacy. Or a single problem, such as syncope (the loss of consciousness) can have multiple causes, such as heart problems. Again, see your physician to accurately pinpoint the cause for falling.

Watch the video:  How to make a home safer for seniors

External Problems
Some risks for falling are external to the body, such as poor lighting, clutter on the floor, a wet floor or even household pets that get underfoot. Change the environment to reduce risks and also add grab bars and increase the height of toilets and chairs.

Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.

How big is the problem?
  • One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it. 
  • Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  • In 2008, over 19,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
  • The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.
  • In 2009, 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized. 
  • In 2000, direct medical costs of falls totaled a little over $19 billion—$179 million for fatal falls and $19 billion for nonfatal fall injuries.5 This equals $28.2 billion in 2010 dollars. 

Download a Free Fall Prevention Guide

What outcomes are linked to falls?
  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).8 In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.
  • The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities leading to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
Helpful mobility aids for use in the home to help prevent falls.

Who is at risk?
Fall-related Deaths
  • In 2008, 82% of fall deaths were among people 65 and older.
  • Men are more likely to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the fall death rate in 2007 was 46% higher for men than for women.
  • Older whites are 2.5 times more likely to die from falls as their black counterparts.
  • Rates also differ by ethnicity. Older non-Hispanics have higher fatal fall rates than Hispanics.

Fall Injuries
  • The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age. In 2009, the rate of fall injuries for adults 85 and older was almost four times that for adults 65 to 74.
  • People age 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
  • Women are more likely than men to be injured in a fall. In 2009, women were 58% more likely than men to suffer a nonfatal fall injury.
  • Rates of fall-related fractures among older women are more than twice those for men.
  • Over 90% of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2007, there were 264,000 hip fractures and the rate for women was almost three times the rate for men.
  • White women have significantly higher hip fracture rates than black women.16 

How can older adults prevent falls

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling. They can:
  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness. 
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside. 
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes. 
  To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:
  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements. 
  • Do weight bearing exercise. 
  • Get screened and treated for osteoporosis. 

Download a Free Fall Prevention Guide 

Call us.  We're here to help you.
About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit http://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


Post a Comment