10 Surprising Causes of Falls

Written by Meghan, Healthy Living Expert on Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Falling is no laughing matter, and particularly when it comes to older adults. Each year, millions of people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls, and one in five elderly fall victims suffer serious injuries, including head trauma and broken bones. Falling can happen anytime and any place, but most falls happen in or around the home.

One of the best ways to prevent potentially dangerous stumbles is to anticipate them. While some household hazards may be obvious, others might surprise you. By addressing these ten common causes of falls, you may be able to prevent serious injury to yourself or your loved one.

Wet or waxed floors: Whether from a spill or a recent cleaning, damp or waxed floors can cause your loved one to slip and fall. Choose no-slip wax to polish floors and make sure spills are cleaned up right away.

Electrical cords: Loose cords and wires are a leading cause of falls among older adults. Secure cords using electrical tape or cable covers. Don’t hide cords under rugs, where they can create an invisible hazard.

Floor mats or rugs: Rugs and bath mats can bunch up or slip, causing a dangerous situation for shuffling feet. Bath mats can help prevent falls when you exit the bath or shower, but be sure to choose a mat that has a non-slip grip on the bottom.  

Poor lighting: You may not think a dimly-lit room could be dangerous, but low lights can make it more difficult to see possible hazards in your path. Install brighter bulbs or add more light fixtures to dark rooms.

Walkers or canes: Yes, even the devices that help your loved one stay mobile may cause falls. Older adults often trip over canes or the legs of their walkers. To prevent this, make sure your loved one has the strength to use her walker or cane and knows how to properly use it.

Clutter and mess: Stray socks, dog toys, or fallen trinkets can all become dangerous when they fall in the path of an older adult. Keep floors clear or consider hiring help to maintain a tidy home.

Shoes: It sounds surprising, but yes, even some shoes can be an unlikely cause of falls. Heeled shoes or smooth soles can cause older adults to trip or slip. Choose flat shoes with slip-resistant soles.

Uneven ground: Cracks in the patio or bumps in the backyard can be a serious hazard. Fill in and even out areas where you or your loved one could trip and fall.

Bed: A bed too high off the ground can become a falling hazard. Make sure your loved one is able to easily get in and out of bed. If necessary, invest in a bed with guardrails or one that can be raised and lowered mechanically.

Toilet: Older adults may have a hard time lowering themselves onto a regular toilet. Handrails and raised toilet seats can help you or your loved one prevent falls in the bathroom.

If your loved one struggles to live independently, it may be time to consider some form of long-term care, whether it is in-home or at a facility. Paying for Senior Care can help you understand your financial options for long-term care, whether you need it now or sometime in the future. Send us your questions, comments, or stories today!