Leading Causes of Falls Among Seniors
The statistics on falls among adults over the age of 65 are shocking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three seniors experiences a fall each year. Falls remain the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults. Staying safe or keeping an aging loved one safe means understanding the leading causes of falls and developing a plan for preventing them.
6 Leading Causes of Falls among Older Adults
The first step in preventing a senior from taking a tumble is knowing what puts them at higher risk. A few of the more common challenges include:
- Vision Problems: One reason that is sometimes overlooked when trying to determine why a senior is experiencing more falls is vision problems. An older adult may have cataracts or other age-related vision loss. They may also need to have the prescription on their glasses changed.
- Medication: Because senior’s process medication differently than younger adults, they are more likely to experience adverse reactions and side effects. Some drugs commonly prescribed for older adults can also cause dizziness.
- Poor Nutrition: Failing to eat a well-balanced diet can also cause a senior to be less steady on their feet. Older adults who have trouble preparing healthy meals or have difficulty finding transportation to and from the grocery store are at higher risk for poor nutrition and falls.
- Unsafe Environment: If a senior lives in a house they have called “home” for many years, there is a greater likelihood that the environment may not be designed with the safety of an older adult in mind. Multiple stairs, poor lighting, and unsafe bathrooms can put a senior at higher risk for a fall at home.
- Lack of Exercise: It isn’t uncommon for an older adult to incorrectly assume that limiting their physical activity will decrease their risk for experiencing a fall. The truth is that maintaining a fitness schedule that includes strength training, endurance and flexibility is one of the best ways to stay free from falls.
- Chronic Diseases: Health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or congestive heart failure (CHF) can also put a senior at higher risk for a fall.
Preventing Falls in Older Adults
Steps you can take to prevent a fall or to keep an aging loved one from experiencing a fall are:
- Review Medication List: Talk with your family physician or pharmacist to review which prescription and over-the-counter medications may put a person at greater risk for a fall.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Develop a plan for eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet each day. It might be by enlisting the help of a home care aide to assist with grocery shopping and meal preparation or by taking advantage of local Meals on Wheels programs.
- Home Safety Assessment: Conduct an in-home safety assessment of your home or that of your senior loved one. If you are uncomfortable doing this on your own, your primary care physician may be able to recommend a physical or occupational therapist you can work with.
- Yearly Eye Exam: Schedule an annual eye exam to help identify and address potential vision problems.
Era Living takes a proactive approach to health and wellness and that includes fall prevention. One way we do that is by hosting A Matter of Balance workshops and other seminars to help our residents and older adults in the Seattle area learn to recognize and avoid conditions that contribute to a fall. We also have a partnership with UW Pharmacy Cares to help promote health and the safe use of medicines. We invite you to call the Era Living community nearest you to learn more or to follow our blog where we routinely share information on a variety of successful aging topics.