Falls are the most common accidents that older people have. Although falls aren’t a normal part of the aging process, as people age they may have medical conditions or be on medicines that may increase their risk of having a fall.
Falls can cause injuries affecting lifestyle and independence, but they can be prevented. To reduce your risk of having a fall, be aware of possible causes or risk factors and avoid or modify them if you can.
There are different things that can increase your chances of falling:
Some medicines can make you:
- Drowsy or tired.
- Dizzy, lightheaded or faint.
- Unsteady on your feet.
- Have blurred or double vision.
- Confused, not able to think clearly
The risk of you having a fall may be greater:
- When you start using a new medicine.
- If you take more than the prescribed dose of your medicine.
- If you take two (or more) medicines from the groups listed in the table below:
Medicines (both prescription and non-prescription) for treating many conditions may increase your risk of having a fall. Ask your doctor if the medicine(s) you’re taking could put you at risk of having a fall.
Falls may be a sign of an undiagnosed medical condition or disease. Always report your fall to your doctor promptly and ask them to check for injuries.
- Poor balance
- Poor vision
- Muscle weakness
- Joint stiffness
- Limited neck movements
Footwear that is unstable or provides poor support.
Your home may also have possible hazards, for example:
- Loose mats
- Uneven paving or walkways
- Slippery surfaces e.g. bath/shower, wet floors
- No handrails on stairs
Time of day
More falls happen in the evening and at night, due to tiredness and decreased light.
- Keep an ongoing record of all your medicines and medical conditions. This helps your doctor to choose medicines that won’t increase your risk of having a fall.
- Read the label on all medicines you take. Check with your pharmacist whenever your medicines have the following labels:
|This medicine may cause dizziness especially if you stand up quickly. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.|
|This medicine may affect mental alertness and/or coordination. If affected, do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery.|
- If your medicine can put you at risk of falling, ask if there is an alternative.
- Ask your doctor for advice on how to lessen your medicine’s side effects.
- Talk to your doctor before mixing alcohol and your medicines.
- Start new medicines on weekends or when other people are around.
Don’t use other people’s medicine—it has been prescribed for them and could have a different effect on you, possibly causing you to fall.
- A physiotherapist and occupational therapist can:
- assess your muscle strength and balance skills
- improve your flexibility
- help you become more active
- help you to make your home “fall-proof”.
- A podiatrist can advise you on footwear that provides good support and balance when walking.
- Take extra care when you get out of bed during the night or first thing in the morning. Sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before getting up