Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. More than one out of four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Falls Are Serious and Costly
- One out of five falls causes a severe injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totalled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
What Can Happen After a Fall?
Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a severe injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live independently.
Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to ensure they don’t have a brain injury.
Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.
Take the Right Steps to Prevent Falls
If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don’t “just happen.” Here are a few tips to help you avoid falls and broken bones:
- Stay physically active.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested.
- Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes.
- Stand up slowly.
- Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk.
- Be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces.
- Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet
- Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last checkup, even if you aren’t hurt when you fall.
Make Your Home Safer
Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks, and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilt liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.
- Important Facts about Falls
- Fall prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls
- Preventing Falls: A Guide to Implementing Effective Community-Based Fall Prevention Programs
- Prevent Falls and Fractures