Falls can be dangerous at any age. Babies and young children can get hurt falling off furniture or down the stairs. Older children may fall off playground equipment. For older adults, falls can be especially serious. They are at higher risk of falling. They are also more likely to fracture (break) a bone when they fall, especially if they have osteoporosis. A broken bone, especially when it is in a hip, may even lead to disability and a loss of independence for older adults.
Some common causes of falls include:
- Balance problems
- Some medicines, which can make you feel dizzy, confused, or slow
- Vision problems
- Alcohol, which can affect your balance and reflexes
- Muscle weakness, especially in your legs, which can make it harder for you to get up from a chair or keep your balance when walking on an uneven surface.
- Certain illnesses, such as low blood pressure, diabetes, and neuropathy
- Slow reflexes, which make it hard to keep your balance or move out of the way of a hazard
- Tripping or slipping due to loss of footing or traction
At any age, people can make changes to lower their risk of falling. It important to take care of your health, including getting regular eye exams. Regular exercise may lower your risk of falls by strengthening your muscles, improving your balance, and keeping your bones strong. And you can look for ways to make your house safer. For example, you can get rid of tripping hazards and make sure that you have rails on the stairs and in the bath. To reduce the chances of breaking a bone if you do fall, make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D.
NIH: National Institute on Aging
- Falls and Fractures in Older Adults: Causes and Prevention (National Institute on Aging) Also in Spanish
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Keep on Your Feet -- Preventing Older Adult Falls (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Preventing Falls and Related Fractures (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) - PDF
- Preventing Falls: Tips to Keep You on Your Feet (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Keeping Your Balance (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Accidental Falls (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Balance Problems (American Geriatrics Society) - PDF
- Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
- Falls Prevention: Unique to Older Adults (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)