Some groups of people are more at risk of falls particularly if there are hazards in their homes.
Some medical conditions can increase the risk of falling:
Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, low blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, dementia or other cognitive impairments. These can cause lack of co-ordination, dizzy spells and weakness.
Loss of balance due to an infection or fear of falling.
Medicines that may have side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness or other loss of functioning. Side effects are more likely to occur if you are regularly taking several medicines each day.
Decline in muscle strength and joint flexibility can affect mobility.
For example, how easily you can stand up, walk, or get out of a chair.
Reduced reaction time. The nerves that carry information to and from the brain can deteriorate especially as we get older. This slows reaction time and the ability to move away from obstacles quickly enough. For example, avoiding a slippery patch on a floor.
Poor vision which may mean that that you are not aware of hazards in time. Common hazards in the home that increase the risk of falls.
- General clutter and furniture that is placed across walking areas
- Tripping hazards such as loose or frayed rugs, uneven floors, trailing wires or clothing that trails along the floor
- Poor lighting
- Wet or slippery floors
- Items stored out of easy reach
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Lack of, or the wrong equipment or aids
The impact of falling as we get older results in greater injuries and increased fear of further falls.
Older people are more likely to sustain a fracture if they fall, particularly to the wrist or hip. Hip fractures can be seriously debilitating and while recovery is taking place at home, help and support will almost certainly be needed. The likelihood of enduring a hip fracture, along with the negative side effects, increases roughly tenfold for every decade after age 50.
Women are particularly vulnerable due to a higher occurrence of osteoporosis. For people over the age of 75 years the impact is even greater.
Falls are the most common cause of death in this age group.