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Falls

Summary

Falls can be dangerous at any age. Babies and young children can get hurt falling off furniture or down the stairs. Older children may fall off playground equipment. For elderly people, falls can be especially serious. They are at higher risk of falling. They are also more likely to break a bone when they fall, especially if they have osteoporosis. A broken bone, especially when it is a hip, may even lead to disability and a loss of independence for the elderly.

Some common causes of falls include

  • Balance problems
  • Some medicines, which can make you feel dizzy, confused, or slow
  • Vision problems
  • Alcohol, which can affect your balance and reflexes
  • Muscle weakness, especially in your legs, which can make it harder for you to get up from a chair or keep your balance when walking on an uneven surface.
  • Certain illnesses, such as low blood pressure, diabetes, and neuropathy
  • Slow reflexes, which make it hard to keep your balance or move out of the way of a hazard
  • Tripping or slipping due to loss of footing or traction

At any age, people can make changes to lower their risk of falling. It important to take care of your health, including getting regular eye exams. Regular exercise may lower your risk of falls by strengthening your muscles, improving your balance, and keeping your bones strong. And you can look for ways to make your house safer. For example, you can get rid of tripping hazards and make sure that you have rails on the stairs and in the bath. To reduce the chances of breaking a bone if you do fall, make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Geriatrics Society)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

Related Issues

  • (National Osteoporosis Foundation)

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (National Center for Health Statistics)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Seniors

  • (American Geriatrics Society) - PDF
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
  • (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

Patient Handouts

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