Fall Risk Programs 2018-10-30T08:20:13+00:00

Falls are a major threat to the health and independence of older adults. Each year, one in three older adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall, and people who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. Falls can be devastating. They are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries among older adults. One out of ten falls causes a serious injury, such as a hip fracture or head injury, which requires hospitalization. In addition to the physical and emotional pain, many people need to spend at least a year recovering in a long-term care facility. Some are never able to live independently again.

Understanding fall risk factors

Falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging. However, falls do occur more often among older adults because fall risk factors increase with age. A fall risk factor is something that increases a person’s chances of falling. This may be a biological characteristic, behavior, or an aspect of the environment. These risk factors include:

Biological risk factors

  • Muscle weakness or balance problems
  • Medication side effects and/or interactions
  • Chronic health conditions such as arthritis and stroke
  • Vision changes and vision loss
  • Loss of sensation in feet

Behavioral risk factors

  • Inactivity
  • Risky behaviors such as standing on a chair in place of a step stool
  • Alcohol use

Environmental risk factors

  • Clutter and tripping hazards
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of stair railings
  • Lack of grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower
  • Poorly designed public spaces

People are living longer and falls will increase unless we make a serious commitment to providing effective fall prevention programs. Fortunately, the opportunity to help reduce falls among older adults has never been better, because research has demonstrated that falls can be prevented. Today, there are effective fall prevention programs that can be used in community settings. By offering these programs in our communities, we can reduce falls and help older adults maintain their health and independence.