Falls- Statistics and Prevention


  • 1/3 (33%) of population ages 65-79 sustain at least 1 fall/yr.1/2 (50%) of population age 80 and older have 1 fall/yr.
  • 2/3 (75%) of those who sustain a fall will fall again in 6 mos.
  • At least 1/3 of all falls in elderly involve environmental hazards in the home (rugs, ice, steps, light, railings, etc.).
  • 10% of all falls result in serious injury (i.e. hip fracture most common). Out of this only 25% make full recovery, 50% must ambulate with an assistive device and 40% go from hospital to a nursing home and loss independence.


Risk Factors for Falls are Multi-factorial

  • 65 years old and older (see statistics)
  • Thin female, Caucasian or Oriental in descent
  • Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
  • Osteoporosis / Parkinson’s / Alzheimer’s / Diabetes
  • Smoker or Heavy Alcohol Drinker
  • Don’t Exercise
  • Lower Extremity or Trunk Weakness
  • Low Blood Pressure or Orthostatic BP
  • Visual Problems
  • Foot and Ankle Problems (peripheral neuropathy, OA)
  • Poor Shoe Wear (heels, narrow shoe, slippers)
  • Dizziness (Vertigo, Presyncope, Orthostatic BP, Anemia)
  • Prior Stroke or TIA’s
  • Cognition Impairment
  • *Medication’s (4 or more mixed)
  • *Environmental Hazards


Percent of Falls in the Community

  • 47% – Accidents from Environmental Hazards (uneven ground, ice)
  • 18% – Illness, Confusion, Medication, Vision Problems
  • 12% – Weakness of Legs or Loss of Balance
  • 11% – Drop Attacks
  • 08% – Dizziness / Vertigo
  • 04% – Orthostatic Hypertension


Drugs As Cause of Dizziness

  • Steroids
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Sedatives
  • Anti-Histamines
  • Vasodilators
  • Anti-Anginals
  • Hyper and Hypoglycemia
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Antibiotics
  • Loop Diuretics
  • Anti-Allergens
  • Anti-Depressants
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Blood Pressure Meds.


Preventing Disabling Falls

  • Most Critical – Maintain Physical Activity
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Tia Chi
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking (mall/community)

Estimated Change in Risks of Falling if:

  • Add one gram of calcium             – 24% less likely
  • Quit Smoking                               – 38% less likely
  • Drink Alcohol in Moderation       – 32% less likely
  • Begin an Exercise Program – 50% less likely

 Ways to Prevent Falls

  • Wear Supportive shoes with non-skid soles
  • Keeps stairs and hallways well lit and use night lights everywhere
  • Get rugs with non-skid backing and remove throw rugs or use carpet tape to adhere them to floor; Tack down carpet edges.
  • Clear pathways and hallways of clutter and electrical cords.
  • Use sturdy handrails when walking down steps and affix no-slip treds to all stairs. May want to use bright color strips at top and bottom of stairs to alert of transition areas.
  • Have railings on both sides of the stairways.
  • Re-Arrange furniture to provide plenty of walking space.
  • Assure couches and chairs aren’t too low to get up from.
  • Be cautious with getting up from eating, sitting or sleeping (lightheadedness may occur, so get bearing before walking).
  • Have grab bars put in your bathtub, shower, and toilet area
  • Use raised toilet seat or commode
  • Use slip-resistant strips or a rubber mat in the tub/shower and a shower seat may be helpful.
  •  Don’t climb on stools and stepladders. Keep all items at waist or chest height. For once a year items (holiday wear), have someone help you.
  • Don’t wax your floors or use a non-skid wax.
  • Use a rubber mat at your kitchen sink to avoid slips on water.
  • Avoid icy patches in the winter and wear boots with good traction (throw out old shoes)
  • Have all sidewalks and walkways repaired and shoveled with salt.
  • Have your eyes checked every year for vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma, and other problems.
  • Have your hearing checked every two years.
  • Stop Smoking
  • Limited your alcohol consumption to 2 per day.
  • See your doctor if you have foot and ankle pain, corns, nail problems.
  • See your doctor if fainting, dizziness, unsteady or feel confused.
  • See your doctor if medications make you dizzy or lose balance.
  • Have a Friend or Family member check on you regularly





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