Each year in the United States, falls result in 3 million emergency room visits and 800,000 serious injuries requiring hospitalization, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Many of these falls are preventable, and at Southeast Georgia Health System, we want to ensure that you take every precaution possible to avoid injury and hospitalization. Knowledge is power — to arm yourself against the risk of falling, this page discusses the common risk factors that lead to a fall and easy tips to ensure you stay as safe as possible.
What factors can lead to a fall?
- Balance and flexibility: As we age, most of us lose coordination, flexibility and balance primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
- Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. New research suggests hearing loss can also contribute to the risk of falling.
- Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration, or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
- Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep them safer as they age.
- Chronic conditions: More than 90 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain or multiple medications.
Prevent falls with these simple steps
- Be aware of wet and slick surfaces
- Wear properly fitting shoes
- Make regular doctors' appointments to check your vision and hearing
- Exercise regularly
- Review medications and supplements with your doctor or pharmacist
- Make simple home improvements
Are you at risk?
If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one, you can discuss your concerns and potential fall risk factors with your primary care physician for guidance on what to do next.