The Shocking Truth: Top 3 Causes of Senior Falls Revealed

hurt teddy bear in bandages

Thousands of people slip and fall every year. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors. Every 11 seconds, a senior is admitted to an emergency room for a fall related injury. Every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall related injury.

Falls not only threaten senior safety and independence, but they also create economic and personal burdens.

As you age, you become more prone to falls, but this doesn’t mean that they are an inevitable part of growing older. The more you know about what causes falls, the more prepared you’ll be to prevent them. At Alert1, it is our top priority to keep you safe as you age in place. Aging in place allows you to stay in your home as long as possible. Here are the top three causes of senior falls, and how to combat them.

An Aging Body Can Lead to Senior Falls

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Your body isn’t the same as it used to be. As you grow older, it is normal for you to become weaker, making you more susceptible to falls. Here are some of the normal outcomes of aging that increase your risk for falls:

  • Muscle weakness. As you age, your decreasing muscle strength can become a bigger issue. Muscle weakness is tied to an increase in falls. Maintain your muscle strength with exercise and physical activity. Even light forms of exercise keeps your body strong and can make all the difference in avoiding a fall.
  • Poor balance. In your golden years, it is natural for the body's reflexes to slow down, meaning you may not be able to catch your balance if you start to fall. Lack of exercise can lead to loss of balance and slower reflexes, so it’s important to keep up with weekly physical activity. Activities with a focus on balance, like Tai Chi and yoga, improve reflexes to help decrease your risk of falls.
  • High blood pressure causing dizziness. With high blood pressure, it’s common to feel dizzy when getting up fast after lying or sitting down. Avoid sudden dizziness by always getting up slowly from a seated or lying position, and standing still for a moment before moving. This lets your blood pressure adjust to help prevent dizziness, fainting, and falls.

Not Having a Senior-Friendly Home Increases Falls

non slip stairs

There are parts of the home that are notorious for causing falls. The best preventative measure is to make your home safe with a few simple modifications. Focus on these areas when making your home senior friendly:

  • The bathroom is the most dangerous room in your home for slips and falls. Having to balance on one foot when entering the shower combined with a slippery floor is a dangerous combination. Install grab bars in and out of the shower to ensure you always have something to hold onto. Place non-slip mats on the floor so that you can step safely without slipping.
  • Steps and stairs are easy to slip and fall on. As you age, steps and stairs become more difficult to go up and down. Make climbing the stairs safer and less of a hassle by installing secure hand railings along their entire length. Install non-skid treads on the steps to further reduce the chance of a fall.
  • Poor lighting inside and outside your home can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have proper lighting in rooms, entrances, and outdoor walkways. The more visible your path is, the less likely you will trip and fall. Install nightlights indoors and motion sensor lights outdoors to ensure you always have an illuminated path at night.
  • Clutter around the house can cause a fall. Clutter around the house creates tripping hazards, particularly if they are in walkways. Put away clothes, organize cords, and tape down throw rugs.

Prescription Drugs and Their Side Effects Can Cause Falls

prescription drugs

If you feel like any of your prescription drugs are giving you any adverse side effects, inform your doctor immediately. Although medications can help with your medical conditions, the side effects of common medications are one of the three main causes of falls. Certain types of prescription drugs can make you more prone to falling because: 

  • Prescription drugs have side effects that cause dizziness and affect balance. Seizure and painkiller medications can cause dizziness and affect the central nervous system. This makes users less alert and slower to react if they feel dizzy. High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart medications are linked to dizziness as well.
  • Over the counter drugs should never be mixed with prescription drugs. Over the counter drugs increase the risk of falling just as much as prescription drugs do. When you are on prescription drugs, mixing them with over the counter drugs is unwise. Doing so can cause adverse effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and becoming unconscious. Although Alert1’s fall detection system will sense a fall if you are unconscious, avoid the risk by not mixing over the counter and prescription drugs.
  • Taking too many medications can increase your risk for falls. If you are on four or more medications, you have a higher risk of falling due to complications caused by mixing medications. To decrease the risk of a medicine-induced fall, conduct a “brown bag checkup.” Gather all current prescription and over the counter medications, and bring them to your doctor or pharmacist. They can review the medications and inform you of any potential complications that might arise from using them all at once

Age in Place Fall-Free

Falls threaten your safety and can lead to severe injuries, lengthy hospital stays, and a loss of independence. The first step towards aging in place is to understand what dangers you may face on a regular basis. There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Now that you are more aware of what causes falls, you will be prepared to prevent them. If you do fall and need help, remember that your Alert1 medical alert system is always there to bring you the help you need.