Falls Are Not a Normal Part of Aging
Falls are common and costly, especially among Americans age 65 and older. But many falls are preventable, and they do not have to be an inevitable part of aging.
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.
Facts about older adult falls
- About 36 million older adults fall each year—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
- Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.
- One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling—usually by falling sideways.
- Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures.
What you can do
Here are some things you can do to keep on your feet and avoid the risk of a fall.
- Determine your risk of falling. A great first step is reading this brochure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Stay Independent [PDF]. Complete the questionnaire in the brochure. If you score four or more points, you may be at higher risk for falling.
- Reduce your chances of falling. Next, take steps to stay safe and independent longer. Learn what you can do to reduce your chances of falling with this PDF from the CDC: What You Can Do to Prevent Falls [PDF].
- Speak up.
- Talk openly with your doctor about fall risks and prevention.
- Tell your doctor right away if you have fallen, if you’re afraid you might fall, or if you feel unsteady.
- Review all of your medicines with your doctor or pharmacist and discuss any side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy. Some medicines, even over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements, can increase your fall risk.
- Have your eyes checked annually. Update your glasses, as needed. Conditions like cataracts and glaucoma limit your vision.
- Have your feet checked. Discuss proper footwear with your doctor and ask whether seeing a foot specialist (podiatrist) is advised.
- Stay active. Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance, such as yoga or tai chi.
Make sure your home is safe
Unfortunately, most accidents happen in the home. We get so used to the way we’ve had our home set up over the years that we may not notice things becoming hazardous as we age.
It’s important to get rid of trip hazards and take other precautions to ensure you can age safely in your home. Use the CDC’s Check for Safety brochure [PDF] to help identify and eliminate fall hazards.