20 Most Common Reasons for a Fall and How to Prevent Them

20 Most Common Reasons for a Fall and How to Prevent Them

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group. One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States, making falls a public health concern, particularly among the aging population.” (1) 

You can help keep yourself safe with fall prevention interventions. The best way to prevent senior falls is to learn what the most common causes are and then find fall prevention solutions to counteract them. An Alert1 senior fall alert system can also give you peace of mind that you can get help in the event of an emergency.  Some of the most common causes of senior falls include age-related changes, lack of self-care, health conditions, and environmental factors. 

Aging Changes

 1. Eyesight

As you age, the lenses of your eyes become less flexible. This can lead to blurry vision. When you can’t see clearly, you are more likely to misstep which can lead to seniors falling. According to the CDC, impaired vision more than doubles the risk of falling. (2)

Fall prevention strategies for the elderly:

  • Be sure to attend your eye doctor exams regularly to check your eye health and ensure that your eyeglass prescription is up to date.

2. Hearing

When you have trouble hearing, your brain devotes more resources towards interpreting sights and sounds to help keep you safe. When this happens, it devotes less attention to your gait or how you step. This can lead to mis-stepping and falling. (3) According to a study done by Clin Med Journal about how hearing and vision impairment affect fall risks, “those with hearing aid use have a 75% increased risk for an incident fall.” (4)

Fall prevention interventions for older adults:

  • If you don’t have a hearing aid, but think you may need one, talk to an audiologist about getting one.
  • If you do have a hearing aid, make sure the volume settings are where they need to be and get any adjustments as needed.

3. Cognitive Impairment

While cognitive impairment generally doesn’t directly cause a fall, it does significantly contribute to other fall-risk factors. For instance, it can affect your brain’s ability to determine your gait and contribute to poor posture and balance. Cognitive decline can also lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia which also increase your risk of falling.

Fall prevention tips for seniors:

  • Keep your brain healthy by challenging it regularly. You can try activities such as brain-training puzzles, listening to music, socializing, and reading.
  • Exercise and a healthy diet can also promote brain health and strengthen the body.
  • An Alert1 medical alarm necklace with built-in fall detection technology can alert an emergency response agent automatically when it senses a fall. You can get immediate help even if you are unable to push your alarm button.

Self-Care and Health Conditions

4. Lack of Exercise and Weakness

If you don’t use your muscles enough, they will weaken and deteriorate. When this happens, you can experience difficulties when standing or walking. If your muscles cannot support your weight, it can increase your risk of falling. Vitamin D deficiencies can also cause fatigue.

Fall prevention strategies for older adults:

  • Be sure to exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong.
  • Maintain a healthy weight so that your muscles don’t have to work quite as hard.
  • Ensure you get the vitamin D your body needs by sitting in the sunlight. Eating fatty fish and fortified dairy products can also help. 


5. Tiredness, Fatigue, and Exhaustion

When you get tired, you may compensate by not lifting your feet fully off the ground when walking. You may also take smaller steps and minimize the amount of energy you use to balance. When you shuffle or take small steps, you are more likely to have one foot bump into the other. This can knock you off balance, causing a fall.

Fall prevention strategies for the elderly:

  • Ensure you get plenty of rest (7-8 hours a night).
  • If you feel fatigued, take a break so that you don’t overexert yourself.
  • If you have a history of falling, a medical alert system from Alert1 can allow you to reach an emergency response agent in seconds. Your agent will help you get the assistance you need and stay on the line until help arrives.


6. Poor Posture

When you hunch forward due to poor posture, it throws off your center of balance. When you experience decreased reaction time that often comes with old age, this lack of balance can lead to a fall in certain situations.

Fall prevention tips for older adults:

  • Exercise your core muscles so that you naturally sit straight.
  • Consider using a cane or walker to help you balance.


7. Side-Effects of Medication

Some medications that you may be taking may be contributing to your fall-risk as well. According to Aging Care, “Researchers have found that the following types of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements may enhance a senior’s fall risk.” (5)

  • Antithrombotic agents
  • Drugs used to treat peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • High ceiling diuretics (like furosemide)
  • NSAIDs
  • Vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements
  • Constipation drugs
  • Calcium supplements
  • Sedatives
  • Analgesics and antipyretics
  • Opioids
  • Antidepressants
  • Thyroid hormones

Fall prevention strategies for seniors:

  • Check to see if you are taking any medications that could be contributing to your fall-risk. Then ask your doctor if there are any alternatives that don’t contribute to your chances of falling.
  • If there are no alternatives, be aware of your condition and take extra caution when navigating your environment. Purchasing an Alert1 medical alert system with fall detection for seniors can help provide peace of mind by ensuring help is at the ready 24/7/365.

8. Chronic Health Conditions

In addition to medication, certain health conditions can affect your focus, judgment, strength, and ability to navigate your world with accuracy. HealthinAging.org lists common diseases and health conditions that increase the risk of seniors falling. (6)

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Thyroid problems
  • Foot disorders
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Dizziness (vertigo) or balance difficulties
  • Sensory disorders
  • Brain or mood disorders
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Dehydration

Fall prevention tips for seniors:

  • Be aware of how your health conditions affect your cognitive and physical abilities and take extra caution when navigating your environment. An Alert1 fall prevention alarm for seniors can also ensure that emergency assistance is always available if you do fall.


9. Injuries and Surgeries

Injuries and surgeries can weaken your muscles and joints. This can make it difficult to retain your balance when walking. It is especially important to avoid falling after a surgery or injury as a second fall can worsen the initial injury or tear out any stitches.

Fall prevention tips for the elderly:

  • Make sure your injury or surgery has adequate time to heal before participating in more rigorous activities. Learn senior health tips to help your injuries and surgeries heal faster.
  • Do some exercises to retain muscle strength.
  • Use a cane or walker to retain your balance.


10. Foot Pain and Poor Footwear

If you take a step and experience a sharp pain, you will likely lift your foot back up right away to stop the pain. However, this can also knock you out of balance and lead to a fall. Poor footwear is another common fall risk factor. If your footwear is not stable and cannot grip the ground, it can be easy to slip.

Fall prevention strategies for seniors:

  • If you have foot pain, take care of it so that it may heal. You can use techniques such as ice, massages, and elevating your foot. If your foot pain is more serious, see a podiatrist.
  • Choose stable footwear for seniors that will cushion support for your foot and good soles that grip the floor.


11. Previous Senior Falls

According to U.S. News, “Currently, nearly 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 experience a fall each year, and once a first fall occurs, the likelihood of a second fall doubles.” (7) With this fact in mind, if you experience a fall, you should take precautions to avoid another.

Fall prevention intervention for older adults:

  • Analyze the reason why you fell the first time and use fall prevention strategies to avoid a repeat situation.
  • Purchase an Alert1 fall prevention button with fall detection so you have access to immediate assistance if you do fall again.


12. Fear of Falling

After experiencing their first fall, some seniors may develop a fear of falling again. It can be tempting to sit more often to avoid a second fall, but this will cause your muscles to weaken and can, in fact, lead to another fall when you eventually do get up.

Fall prevention tips for the elderly:

  • Use exercises to strengthen your muscles.
  • Take each step with more care to decrease your risk of falling.
  • Use a cane or walker to steady yourself.
  • Use an emergency alert system for seniors from Alert1 to give you peace of mind that you will receive immediate help if you do fall.

Hazards In Your Environment

13. Tripping Hazards

Clutter around your home can be a tripping hazard. Items like clothing, piles of books, loose papers, tools, and other random items can easily become dangerous obstacles. Electrical cords and garden hoses can also get caught on your foot. Throw rugs can easily get flipped over and become a stumbling block. If they don’t stick to the floor, they also pose as a slipping risk.

Fall prevention home strategies:

  • Get organized and throw away anything you don’t need.
  • If you don’t want to get rid of certain items, find an out of-the-way place to store them.
  • Choose rugs that grip the floor well or get rubber mats to go under them that help them stick.
  • Avoid using throw rugs altogether. If your floor is slippery, wear stable footwear.

14. Slippery Floors

Slippery floors can be a fall-risk at any age. Kitchens and bathrooms are places you will want to pay particular attention to, especially when wet. Be sure to take extra care when walking in these areas.

Fall prevention home interventions:

  • Install grab bars on the walls to help steady yourself.
  • Clean up spills to reduce the risk of falling.
  • Wear footwear that grips the floor.
  • Use a bathmat to improve stability in your shower.
  • A showerproof Alert1 medical alarm system with fall detection can help you receive the help you require if slippery floors create safety issues.

15. Areas of Disrepair

As you age in place, areas of your home that are in disrepair be a tripping hazard. This includes damage such as loose floorboards, loose tiles, and cracks. Stairs are a particular area of your home that you will want to ensure are in good condition.

Fall prevention home tips:

  • Repair damaged areas or hire a professional to repair them as soon as possible.
  • If you can’t get the area repaired right away, avoid the area, if possible.

16. Stairs

Stairs are one area of your home you will want to pay particular attention to. According to the National Library of Medicine, “An estimated 24,760,843 patients were treated in emergency departments for a stair-related injury during the 23-year study period, averaging 1,076,558 patients annually.” (8) It is also worth noting that if you have impaired vision, it can be difficult to see the edges of stairs.

Fall prevention home strategies:

  • Hold onto railings when using stairs and install railings if you do not have any.
  • If you have impaired vision, mark the edges of stairs with brightly colored tape to help you see them.
  • Invest in a chairlift to get you up and down the stairs safely.
  • Get an in-home wireless emergency medical button with fall detection so that you can get instant help if you need it.

17. Broken Furniture

If furniture collapses, it can lead to senior falls and injuries. Some common reasons why furniture may collapse include poor construction, defects in the design, inadequate assembly, and wear-and-tear from aging.

Fall prevention home interventions:

  • Check older furniture for wear and tear.
  • If any of your furniture seems unstable, replace it.

18. Poor Lighting

Similar to poor vision, poor lighting can make it difficult to see obstacles on the ground and increase the risk of falling. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your home is properly lit.

Fall prevention home tips:

  • Ensure all areas of your home are properly lit.
  • Carry a flashlight if you go outside when there is not adequate lighting. An Alert1 senior fall alert system can provide a sense of security both inside the house as well as outdoors.

19. Weather

When it rains or snows, the ground becomes slippery and increases the chances of a senior fall. Black ice can be particularly dangerous as it can be difficult to see. Strong winds can also knock you out of balance.

Fall prevention strategies:

  • If your area is expecting severe weather, prepare ahead of time.
  • Stay inside when it is raining, snowing, or particularly windy.
  • If you must go outside during these conditions, ask someone to accompany you for stability or use a cane.

20. Uneven Terrain

Uneven terrain can cause your foot or ankle to crumble beneath you. When this happens, you can lose your balance and fall.

Fall prevention interventions:

  • Avoid uneven terrain when possible.
  • Wear sturdy shoes for seniors that will help you retain your balance.
  • Use a cane or walker to steady yourself.

Help Ensure Your Safety with an Alert1 Emergency Alert System

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.” (9) It is important to analyze fall risk factors in your environment and take fall prevention interventions to decrease your risk of falling.

If a fall should occur, an Alert1 medical alert pendant for the elderly can quickly put you in contact with a certified emergency response agent at our 24/7 Command Center. The on-the-go emergency alert wrist watch is also a great emergency response solution for those who enjoy traveling and prefer a style of medical alert that is more discreet.



1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. Injury Prevention & Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keep On Your Feet.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. Vision Health Initiative (VHI). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls.

3 Shapiro, Zhanneta. Feb. 2019. LeaderLive. ASHA Wire. Hearing Loss and the Increased Risk of Falls.

4. Wells, TS et al. June. 2020. Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. Clin Med International Library. Hearing and Vision Impairment is Associated with Falls Risk among Older Adults.

5 Botek, Anne-Marie. Sept. 2021. Aging Care. Medications That Increase Fall Risk in Older Adults.

6 HealthinAge.org staff. n.d. HealthinAge.org. Falls Prevention.

7 Campell, Kevin, Dr. Oct. 2016. Preventing Falls in Older Americans. U.S. News. Preventing Falls in Older Americans.

8 Blazewick, Danielle H. et al. Sept. 2017. National Library of Medicine. Stair-Related Injuries Treated in United States Emergency Departments.

9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. Home and Recreational Safety. Important Facts about Falls.