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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Falls and Older Adults

Preventing Falls

Fallen Man on Stairs

Falls by seniors in the home, such as on stairways, are among the most common and dangerous accidents. They are largely preventable, with the right preparations.

fastfacts
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Each year, one in every three U.S. adults 65 and older falls, but less than half tell their healthcare providers about it.
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Falls can cause hip, leg, and arm fractures, and head trauma. This makes it hard to get around or live independently, and increases the risk of death.
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Over 95 percent of hip fractures are due to falls. Older women are more than twice as likely to fracture their hips in falls as older men.
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People 75 and older who fall are much more likely to be admitted to long-term care facilities for a year or more.
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More men are likely to die from falls than women.
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Even if they are not injured, many people fear falling again and limit their activities. This reduces mobility and physical fitness, and actually increases the risk of another fall.
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Fortunately, falls are largely preventable. Reduce the chance of falls through regular exercise, regular eye tests, removing tripping hazards at home, and identifying medicines that may cause dizziness.

Many of us have a relative or friend who has fallen. They may have slipped while walking or felt dizzy and fallen after standing up. Maybe you've fallen yourself. If so, you're not alone. More than one in three people age 65 or older falls each year. The risk of falling—and fall-related problems—rises with age.

Risk Increases With Age

More than 1.6 million older U.S. adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and deaths due to injury. Fractures, especially of the hip, can lead to hospital stays, disability, and loss of independence among older adults. Fortunately, most healthy, independent older adults hospitalized for broken hips can return home or live on their own after treatment and rehabilitation. But many cannot and need long-term care.

Fear of Falling

Fear of falling becomes more common with age, even among those who haven't fallen. Consequently, older people may avoid walking, shopping, or taking part in social activities. If you're worried about falling, talk with your healthcare provider. Your provider may prescribe physical therapy to help improve your balance and walking—and restore your walking confidence. Getting over your fear can help you to stay active, maintain your physical condition, and avoid future falls.

Read More "Preventing Falls" Articles

Preventing Falls / Great Help for Older Adults / How Can Older Adults Prevent Falls? / Home Improvements Prevent Falls

Winter 2014 Issue: Volume 8 Number 4 Page 12-13