What Causes Falls in Elderly

August 21, 2017

Did you know that more than 1 in 4 aging adults will fall each year in the United States? And those who have fallen once are twice as likely to fall again. 

The chances of seniors falling and being seriously injured during that fall significantly increase with age. Identifying fall risk factors with your aging loved ones and taking precautionary measures will increase their longevity and provide peace of mind to families. 

Here are five causes of falls, according to BrightStar Care: 

1. Impaired vision
Cataracts and glaucoma alter depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare.

What’s the solution? 
  • Add color and contrast to identify objects, such as grab bars and handrails.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked each year or any time you notice a change.

More fall prevention tips and resources.

2. Home hazards
Most homes are full of falling hazards.

What’s the solution? 

  • Remove or fix things you could trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs or loose carpet.
  • Add grab bars in the bathroom, and install proper railings on both sides of stairways.
  • Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
  • Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
  • Keep your house well-lit. Use night-lights (or keep overhead light on at night) in hallways and bathrooms.
  • Put sturdy handrails on stairways. Make sure you have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Store things on lower shelves so you don’t have to climb or reach high.

3. Medication
Many drugs (i.e. sedatives, anti-depressants) reduce mental alertness, affect balance and gait and cause drops in systolic blood pressure while standing. Mixing certain medications increases these effects, causing falls.

What’s the solution? 

  • Have a home care professional carefully monitor medications and interactions.
  • Know the side effects of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor if the medicines you take can affect your balance. For instance, sleeping pills and some medicines for anxiety can affect your balance.
  • If you take two or more medicines, talk to your doctor about how they work together. Sometimes combinations of medicines can cause dizziness or sleepiness. Either of these can lead to a fall.

4. Weakness, low balance
Weakness and lack of mobility leads to many falls.

What’s the solution? 

  • Exercise regularly to boost strength and muscle tone. Practicing these each day can help you stay active and independent.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with nonskid shoes.
  • If you use a walker or cane, make sure it is fitted to you. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip when it becomes worn.

5. Chronic conditions
Parkinson’s, heart disease, and other conditions increase the risk of falling.

What’s the solution? 

  • Enlist specially-trained caregivers to ensure that clients follow their treatment plans, assist them to doctor appointments and recognize red flags.
  • If you live alone, think about wearing an alert device that will bring help in case you fall and can’t get up. Or carry a cordless or cell phone with you from room to room.

At BrightStar Care®, we take a unique approach to decreasing risk factors for falls in older adults by pairing our unmatched clinical expertise with key education resources to help and empower families. One such resource is “Speak Up: Reduce Your Risk of Falling” published by the Joint Commission which highlights the major reasons why older people fall and very tactical steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood of a fall occurring. 

If you believe your loved one who might be at risk of falling, contact us or call 866.618.7827 today for a free in-home assessment to identify risk factors and provide a comprehensive plan on how to decrease their likelihood of experiencing a fall. 

1Source: CDC