There is a common rite of passage that few people discuss: your first fall as an older adult. A fall, whether mild or serious, is one of the most common signs of normal aging. In fact, according to the CDC, one out of four adults falls down each year. If you are starting to feel a bit shaky, or have taken a recent tumble, you are not alone!
But what are the most common causes of falls in the elderly, and how can you prevent them?
The key to preventing falls in the elderly is understanding why they happen. We’ve created this guide to share a few of those reasons. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to take proactive steps to maintain your independence as you age.
Continue reading to learn the causes behind elderly falls.
1. Sensory Changes
As you get older, you can often anticipate changes in your vision and hearing. Sometimes these changes are progressive, and you might not notice them right away. Since your senses help you navigate your environment, sudden changes can lead to falls. For example, you might not be able to see curbs or obstructions while walking.
Take a proactive stance and schedule regular vision and hearing checkups. Glasses and hearing aids can keep you safe and independent as your sensory needs shift.
2. New Medical Diagnoses
Many medical diagnoses are more likely to affect aging populations. These include conditions that can impact your balance and gait.
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Thyroid changes
- Diabetes and neuropathy
Be sure to schedule and attend regular appointments with your GP and any specialists you see. They can help you diagnose and treat these conditions early. You’ll be able to build a team and support system who can support you during a new diagnosis. Many older adults live mobile, independent lives, even after receiving these diagnoses!
3. Lower Muscle Mass
Adults naturally begin to lose muscle mass as they age. After age 30, most adults lose up to 5% of their muscle mass per decade! As this loss of muscle adds up, it can make you feel weaker. If you experience weakness in your legs, you are more likely to fall.
While muscle loss is natural, you can make a few changes to maintain some extra bulk as you grow older. Consider a diet rich in lean proteins. You can also find ways to incorporate light exercise into your daily or weekly routine. Consider taking a brief walk each day to keep your leg muscles strong and healthy.
4. Medication Side Effects
Many adults find they take more medications as they age to manage age-related conditions. Some of these medications cause side effects that can include dizziness or vertigo.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects you can anticipate after starting a new prescription. They may have suggestions to help reduce the chances of experiencing these problems. Adults taking four or more medications have the highest likelihood of falling.
Likewise, if a medication side effect is impacting your quality of life, they may be able to prescribe something different. Always speak up and advocate for yourself, or ask a friend or family member to help.
5. Clutter and Unsafe Conditions
If you’ve lived in one place for a while, you might not notice wear and tear around your home. Likewise, household clutter can build up over time. If carpeting comes loose or clutter blocks pathways, you can easily trip and fall without any underlying medical cause. In fact, the majority of falls are accidents and could happen to anybody!
Prioritize cleaning and maintaining your home, and take advantage of your support system whenever possible. Consider hiring a cleaning service to help you maintain a safe, orderly living environment.
If something in your home needs a repair, don’t put it off. The sooner you handle it, the less likely you will be to trip and fall!
Prevent Falls As You Age With NexStride
Aging is a natural process, and all adults experience falls from time to time. Now that you’re aware of the most common causes of falls in the elderly, you can work to prevent them. One tool that might help is NexStride, a research-backed device that functions like a walking coach.
NexStride is particularly effective for people with mobility challenges, such as Parkinson’s or MS. It’s a tool that attaches to your cane, walker, or other mobility device. NexStride uses light and sound cues to help your brain find and maintain a rhythm. This prevents freezing of gait, helping to keep you moving forward independently.
A NexStride representative would love to answer any questions you have about how this technology can decrease your fall risk. Give us a call at 805-574-7275 or use the live chat feature below. In the meantime, learn more about NexStride here.