6 Leading Reasons Older Adults Experience a Fall
Falls are the leading cause of serious—even life-limiting—injuries among adults age 65 and older. From hip fractures to head trauma, the statistics are startling.
According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult experiences a fall that requires treatment in a hospital emergency room every 11 seconds. Even worse, a senior loses their life every 19 minutes because of injuries following a fall. For older adults and those who love them, these are frightening numbers to see.
Fall Prevention Starts with Understanding the Common Causes
In recognition of Fall Prevention Awareness Day on September 22, we are highlighting some of the most common reasons older adults experience a fall.
- Environment: Seniors frequently live in the same house for many decades. Older homes aren’t typically designed to meet the needs of a senior. Steep stairs, poor lighting, and an unsafe bathroom are just a few of the in-home hazards that can contribute to a fall.
- Medication issues: Another cause of falls among seniors is problems with medication. A side effect of a prescribed medication, or even an interaction between several medicines, can cause older adults to become drowsy or dizzy. That unsteadiness can lead to a fall.
- Poor nutrition: It isn’t uncommon for seniors, especially those who live alone or those who have given up driving, to suffer from poor nutrition. A lack of easy transportation to the grocery store to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein is one potential reason. A health condition such as arthritis can also make it difficult to prepare healthy meals. When an older adult’s diet is poor, they are at an increased risk for falling.
- Vision loss: Aging increases the risk for vision problems that range from cataracts to glaucoma. Vision impairment can cause an older adult to experience a fall. Another vision challenge might be wearing outdated prescription glasses. If an older adult doesn’t have a yearly vision exam, they might not even realize how much their vision has changed.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A senior who believes they are at high risk for a fall might curtail their physical activity, sticking close to the couch and avoiding much walking. But in fact, staying active protects core strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Each of these helps prevent falls in people of all ages, but especially seniors.
- Chronic diseases: Some older adults live with chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk for falling. A few examples include Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, congestive heart failure, and dementia.
At Sunrise, our senior-friendly communities are designed to help residents reduce their risk for a fall. We’ve also developed tools and resources that families can use to create a safe furniture layout for their loved one’s apartment. Download our design guide to learn more.