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Understanding and Reducing Fall Hazards

Lisa Feldman
March 21, 2019

How common are falls in older adults?

In adults over age 65, falls are a significant cause of death and injury, and result in 3 million emergency room visits each year. In the older population, falls are the most common cause of injury-related death. Falls are not an inevitable part of aging, however. There are things you can to do reduce the risk of falls.

What causes falls to happen?

There are many factors that can contribute to the risk of falling. In some cases, several factors come into play. Causes of falls can include:

  • Some medications can cause drowsiness, light headedness, and loss of balance, which can increase the risk of falling. Most older adults take at least one prescription medication daily.
  • Lower body weakness and loss of balance can happen as a result of aging, and can contribute fall risk.
  • Vision problems and certain ear disorders can increase the risk of falling.
  • Dangers in the home can cause falls, such as uneven steps, loose rugs, or clutter.

Result of falls in the elderly

The injuries that can be sustained from falls vary, but can include traumatic brain injury and hip fracture. Injuries from falls can cause reduced mobility, and difficulty or inability to do daily activities and live independently. The fear of falling again can cause a person to reduce their activities. Over time, reduced activity can lead to weakness and greater risk of falling again.

What can you do to prevent falls?

The good news is, most falls are preventable. By addressing the main causes of falls, you can reduce your risk of falling. As a start, take the following steps to reduce your risk of falling:

  1. Talk to your doctor about whether your medication may put you at risk for falling. Your doctor may be able to do a fall risk assessment at your next appointment. Over-the-counter as well as prescription medicines should be reviewed.
  2. Do exercises to make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Your doctor can help you find exercises appropriate for you, or can refer you to physical therapy or occupational therapy if necessary.
  3. Have your eyes checked regularly by an eye doctor and update your eyeglasses as needed.
  4. Wear sensible shoes that fit you properly and have a good amount of traction on the sole.
  5. Make your home safer by adding grab bars where needed and clearing walkways of clutter. Add proper lighting to dark areas of your home.

By proactively taking some simple steps, you can reduce your risk of falling. Download and read our Fall Prevention teaching sheet to learn more.  

 

The information provided herein is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your Landmark provider or primary care physician.

Originally published Mar 21, 2019 4:02 AM updated Apr 04, 2019
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