Elderly man has fallen
Senior Health

How Common Are Falls Among Older People?

According to the National Institute for Health: Senior Health, more than one in three people age 65 years or older fall each year. The risk of falling — and the risk of disability and other life-changing problems caused by falls — increase with age. Falls are not an inevitable part of getting older, though. Many falls can be prevented.

Why do people fall?

People fall for many reasons. Often, more than one risk factor is involved in a fall. As the number of risk factors rises, so does the risk of falling.

Many falls are linked to personal factors — a person’s physical condition or medical problems. Falls may also be linked to safety hazards in the person’s home or community environment.

What should I do if I fall?

A sudden fall can be startling and frightening. If you fall, stay as calm as possible.

Right After A Fall

  1. Take several deep breaths to try to relax.
  2. Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments. This will help you get over the shock of falling.
  3. Decide if you’re hurt before getting up. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.

Getting Up From a Fall

  1. If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side.
  2. Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust. Slowly get up on your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair.
  3. Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor.
  4. From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.

If you’re hurt or can’t get up, ask someone for help or call 911. If you’re alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.

Should I tell my doctor if I fall?

Yes. Be sure to tell your doctor if you fall or almost fall, even if you aren’t hurt. The fall might be a sign of an underlying problem that can be treated or corrected.

Write down when, where, and how you fell so you can discuss the details with your doctor. The doctor can assess whether a medical issue, such as low blood pressure, or another cause of the fall should be addressed.

Knowing the cause of a fall can help you and your doctor find ways to prevent future falls. For instance, your doctor might suggest changing your medication doses or eyewear prescription.

After a fall, your doctor might refer you to other health care providers who can help prevent future falls. A physical therapist can help with gait, balance, strength training, and walking aids. An occupational therapist can suggest changes in your home that may prevent future falls.

Causes and Risk Factors

Falls don’t “just happen,” and people don’t fall because they get older. Often, more than one underlying cause or risk factor is involved in a fall. A risk factor is something that increases a person’s risk or susceptibility to a medical problem or disease.