Fall Prevention in Older Adults
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults who are 65 years old or older (source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Falls are the number one reason for admission to the Rhode Island Hospital adult trauma service. Falls can cause significant injuries such as head trauma and broken bones and can lead to serious consequences and even death.
Seniors are at particularly high risk not only to experience a fall, but also to sustain a serious injury or experience significant complications.
Certain medical conditions can make you at higher risk for a fall. They include:
- Weakness, especially in your legs
- Balance problems
- Some medications, especially medications that are sedating
- Problems with your eyesight
Hazards in or outside the home can also increase the risk of a fall:
- Broken or uneven steps
- Throw rugs or clutter
- Icy conditions in the winter
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of falling.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. (Source: CDC)
A senior’s general health as well as medications they are taking can significantly increase the risk of falling. (Source: National Council for Aging Care)
One in three senior adults experiences a fall each year. (Source: National Council for Aging Care)
Fall Prevention Measures
Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.
- Ask your health care provider to evaluate your risk for falling.
- Ask your health care provider or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might be putting you at increased risk for a fall.
- Do exercises to help increase your strength and improve your balance.
- Have your eyesight checked
- Fall-proof your home
- Have grab bars installed in your bathroom
- Clear away things on the floor that you could trip over like throw rugs for example
- Make sure you have adequate lighting throughout your home