Why is Falling So Common Among Elders?

One in four adults over the age of 65 fall per year.  Falling is also the leading cause of death in elders according to the CDC. But it’s preventable with proper precautions. Check out these common reasons elders fall and how to prevent it. 

I don’t believe it will happen to me.

No one anticipates getting into a car accident, but they still get insurance. Why?  Because there’s always a chance it could happen. This is the same for falling. Most people think if they’re healthy and active, they won’t fall. The first step to minimize risk of falling is acknowledging that it could happen — then taking the proper precautions. 

False information.

Belief: If you fall back into a chair, or aren’t injured, it’s not a fall. 
Reality: Becoming unbalanced and relying on other surfaces to break a fall is still falling. If this has happened it’s imperative to tell a family member or a health care provider so preventative measures can be taken for the future.

Belief: Limiting your physical activity can prevent falling. 
Reality: The opposite is true. Reducing physical activity causes muscle deterioration, which makes balancing harder. Talk to a health care provider about an exercise program can help build strength and reduce the chances of falling.

Belief: Falling just comes with age. 
Reality: Getting older doesn’t mean falling is expected.  A range of issues that can cause falling, but age isn’t one of them. By understanding that falling isn’t normal, and working on issues that cause imbalance, life can be much safer. 

My vision isn’t what it once was.

Most people’s vision decreases with age.  Make sure you or your loved one regularly go to the eye doctor to ensure the prescription is up to date. Also, keep in mind tint-changing lenses can be dangerous when coming from inside to outside or vice versa. Keeping one pair of sunglasses and one pair of glasses can prevent stumbling or falling.

My medicine makes me dizzy.

While dizziness can be a side effect of some medications, it’s important to immediately contact the doctor if this is the case.  Dizziness and feeling unbalanced could be a result of missing a dosage of medicine or some other condition. Make sure you or your loved one has a system to know when to take medication. Be cautious of over the counter medication as well—some can have these same side effects. 

My home isn’t fall-proof.

Many people who’ve lived in their house for a long time don’t update it as they age. While it’s familiar and comfortable, it can be dangerous. Talk to your family or health care provider about potential risks at home. Is furniture placed where it could be tripped over? Are lights bright enough? Do you have proper railings for stairs and in the shower?  These easy changes can help protect you or your loved one.

Even if you get around great, knowing the misconceptions about falling can keep you safer.  Make fall prevention practices a daily routine for a more independent and safer life.