8 common reasons why people fall

October 2, 2015

No one forgets how to walk. But starting as early as our forties, any number of physical factors make us more prone to falls. With time, many of these risks grow considerably. Be most mindful of the following ones.

8 common reasons why people fall

1. Previous falls

If you've fallen before, you're three times more likely to fall again than someone who has never fallen.

2. Older age

If you're over 80, your risk of falling is double that of someone younger.

3. Depression

Depression doubles your risk of falling.

  • Possible reasons include not paying attention to your environment, drinking more alcohol and eating less, or medication side effects.

4. Arthritis

If you have arthritis, you're more than twice as likely to fall as someone without the disease.

  • It's not the arthritis itself that increases the risk but the fact that people with the disease often stop exercising, so their muscles get weak.
  • This doesn't have to happen! Learn about ways to maintain your strength even if you have arthritis.

5. Environmental hazards

Throw rugs, random floor clutter, and overcrowded rooms become minefields as you age.

  • Even wall-to-wall carpeting can be a tripping risk if the sole of your shoe catches in the carpeting.
  • Other potential problems in your home include low lighting, missing or loose handrails on stairs, and lack of handrails in the shower/bath.

6. Medications

Certain medications, including antidepressants, anti-arrhythmia drugs, digoxin (a heart medication), and diuretics, significantly increase your risk of a fall.

  • Plus, if you're taking three or more medications (and many of us are), you're also more likely to fall.

7. Vision problems

Maintaining balance is harder when you lose your peripheral vision, but that's what happens in macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision problems as we age.

  • Overall, you're 2 1/2 times more likely to fall if you have vision problems than if you don't.

8. Lack of exercise

Leg weakness is the greatest risk associated with falls, increasing the risk of tumbles more than fourfold.

  • Weak muscles not only make you prone to falling but also make it more unlikely that you'll break your fall or regain your balance if you start to slip.
  • If you have time for only one activity, make it walking or strength training for your legs.

A simple fall can have devastating results. Keep these common risks in mind to reduce your chances of falling.

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