Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 years of age and older. According to the CDC, there are over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
There are risk factors that can lead to a fall. Some common factors include vision problems, hearing loss, and difficulties with walking and balance. Additionally, some medications can affect balance or cause sleepiness, making you more likely to fall. Other causes include safety hazards in the home or community environment.
Confusion can sometimes lead to falls. For example, if you wake up in an unfamiliar environment, you might feel unsure of where you are. If you feel confused, wait for your mind to clear or until someone comes to help you before trying to get up and walk around.
Some medications can increase a person’s risk of falling because they cause side effects like dizziness or confusion. The more medications you take, the more likely you are to fall.
However, falls can be prevented. Here are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling:
Have Vision and Hearing Tested- Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall. When you get new eyeglasses or contact lenses, take time to get used to them. Always wear your glasses or contacts when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well and wear it.
Do Strength and Balance Exercises- Practicing yoga and Tai Chi is a good exercise to help improve strength and balance.
Talk to Your Doctor– Ask your doctor to evaluate your risk for falling and be sure to alert your doctor to any new medical problems, and of course of any falls. Mild weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis
Check Your Surroundings – Remove all clutter, such as stacks of old newspapers and magazines, especially from hallways and staircases. Remove tripping hazards like rugsRemove tripping hazards like rugs and consider adding hand rails to both sides of stairs.
For more information on Falls Prevention, read this article by NCOA.