Fall Prevention: Causes and Risks of Falling

Article | April 2020

Fall Prevention: Causes and Risks of Falling

Falls can be dangerous for older adults but there are precautions you can take to lower your risk.

Many of us develop a fear of falling as we get older. Falls can be serious for people aged 65 and older, resulting in injury and even death. Even a minor fall can cause a loss of independence by making it hard to do your everyday activities and take care of yourself.

The fear of falling can have a serious impact on your daily life. You might limit your activities and social engagements to avoid falling. This could lead to depression, isolation, and helplessness.

The good news is there are ways to prevent most falls, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What are the main causes of falls?

Several factors can increase your chance of a fall. Talk to your doctor to find out if any of these apply to you:

  • Changes in eyesight, hearing, or reflexes
  • Medical issues that can affect your balance such as diabetes, heart disease, or problems with your thyroid, nerves, feet, or blood vessels
  • Medications that make you feel dizzy or sleepy
  • Lower body muscle weakness
  • Blood pressure that drops too much when you get up from lying down or sitting
  • Painful foot problems

How can you lower your risk for falls?

To lower your fall risk, follow these tips:

  • Stay physically active
  • Have your eyes and hearing tested
  • Learn about any side effects of your medications
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stand up slowly
  • Use an assistive device to help you feel steady

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever fallen, even if your fall did not cause an injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

More Information

To learn more about falls, visit the NIA website, or find out how to make your home fall-proof.

Nurse helping eldering women with walking cane