Why are older people more prone to falls?

There are several health conditions that can cause elderly people to fall. Examples include:
  • difficulty with balance
  • weakness
  • chronic pain, causing them difficulty in getting around
  • visual problems
  • hearing problems
  • medications that can cause dizziness
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of adults ages 65 and older will fall at least once per year. Falls can result in bone fractures, head traumas, hospitalization, traumatic brain injuries and the increased risk of premature death and fatalities.

Research suggests that falling rates can vary by gender. Women are twice as likely to be admitted to a hospital for bone fractures, and men are more likely to die from falling.

Your risk of falling increases as you age. Older adults ages 85 and older are four to five times more likely to experience a fall than adults ages 65-74 -- a sharp increase attributed to a loss in vision, weakened muscles and an increase in chronic conditions as one ages.

Falls most often occur from a combination of physical hazards and vision loss. The CDC notes that pets can pose a serious fall hazard, with more than 86,000 adults annually falling as a direct result of their pets or their pets’ toys, dishes or accessories. Additionally, walking around in poorly-lit areas of the home, combined with vision loss, increases the likelihood of falling.
David Slovik, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Each year one-third of Americans age 65 and older suffer falls; about a third of these falls result in injury.
All people are more susceptible to falls as they age, but women are even more likely to fall than men are. According to the Surgeon General's report on osteoporosis, 24% of women ages 50 and older and 48% of women ages 85 and older fall each year, compared with 16% of men ages 50 and older and 35% of men ages 85 and older.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.