What Causes Seniors to Fall and How to Reduce Fall Risk

Although aging is a natural process for humans, it can be tough for many people. Getting old comes with its drawbacks. Mostly, seniors start to lose their muscle flexibility, agility, and alertness. As a result, more and more elders are prone to falling. 

old people falling

The good news is that the risk of falling for seniors can be prevented when applying the right and most effective solutions. In the following article, we’ll shed some light on some of these important questions:

Why do old people fall? What are the different factors that lead seniors to be at the risk of slipping and falling? What to do when elderly keep falling? Can various solutions be taken into consideration?

What Causes the Elderly to Fall?

Falling can happen to anyone. It may be because you were absent-minded, and you didn’t notice the wet surface. You may have been unable to sleep all night, which resulted in your dizziness. And, the list of reasons goes on. 

However, when it comes to answering the question of ‘why do old people fall?’ examining the reasons behind it is more serious since their physical state can play an instrumental role in falling. 

Physical Factors

With age, seniors can lose some of their physical abilities:

1. Impaired Vision

why do old people fall

Getting older weakens our sight since the light reaching the retina can decrease over the years. As a result, older people can have a problem noticing obstacles or seeing slippery surfaces.

Additionally, many seniors wear eyeglasses. Yet, not all of them are keen on regular doctor checks, which means a great number of them rely on the wrong glasses for their eyes. 

Also, wearing light-adaptive glasses can be among the falling factors. The prompt switch in colors can confuse elders and make them unable to see what’s in front of them.

2. Obesity

senior falling factors

Well, you are what you eat rings true here. Relying on junk food can be detrimental for anyone and specifically for seniors. With age, the body absorbs fewer vitamins resulting in less energy and strength. 

Seniors who do not take proper care of their bodies when it comes to eating well and taking the necessary vitamins can be more prone to experiencing a fall.  

3. Medication

medication cause senior falling

With age, people can face many health problems, requiring them to take more than one type of medicine. The intake of different pills can cause the elderly to fall. 

Some pills may contain sleeping substances like painkillers. Sometimes, the mix of diverse medicines can lead to dizziness. 

4. Loss of Mobility

Another reason behind ‘why do old people fall’ is the lack of physical activities, which can lead to weaker muscles and stiff joints. Therefore, they can become more prone to losing their balance when walking. With the lack of flexibility and alertness, seniors can find it hard to retain steadiness and prevent potential falls.  

5. Chronic Condition

Around 80 percent of elders have at least one chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These illnesses can lead to a weaker physical condition, depression, loss of steadiness, and inactivity—which in turn, can lead to falling.

6. Surgery

surgery causes senior falling

Surgeries, in general, can be a great pain in the neck for seniors. Not only do they make them feel susceptible, but they also increase discomfort and dependency. This makes the elderly not able to maintain the same level of activeness as they were prior to the operation. However, this can often be a brief stint until they completely heal. 

Dangerous Environment

When you live in one place for too long, it’s hard to notice its inconveniences on your health. This is the same for older people’s environments. Many seniors live in houses that are not senior-friendly. They include several elements that can cause falls. 

1. Uneven Surfaces

Sometimes, having an uneven surface or many stairs can add style and uniqueness to your home. However, rough paths, slippery surfaces, and stairs are among the top causes of falls. Seniors often can’t keep their balance on uneven surfaces, and they don’t have enough flexibility to handle stairs on a regular basis.

Other causes related to uneven surfaces and falling is bad lighting, so you can’t see where you’re walking, or loose carpet that could cause tripping.

2. Unsecure Stairs

Unsecure stairs lead to old people falling

Stairs with no handrail can be very hazardous for some seniors. With no support, elders can find nothing to grab onto when they lose their balance, resulting in stumbling. 

Unexpected Triggers

Other factors that can be the reason why do old people fall are some kind of unexpected triggers. These usually happen in an unexpected moment, depending on the senior’s lifestyle and the influences of their habits. 

Whether it’s about the type of exercise they’re involved in or the way they conduct certain activities, a senior can face a sudden lack of stability and strength. That’s why seniors need to be extra attentive in adapting to this level of activeness and routine without the risk of falling.

Emotional stress could also be an unexpected trigger, as you’re not concentrating 100 percent on your activity.

How to Reduce Fall Risks?

Now, the question to be asked is what to do when elderly keep falling? If you’re a senior, or someone who’s looking after their older parents or relatives, you can be relieved. Elderly falls are recurrent but solvable. All you have to do is take the right measures to prevent any potential falls. 

Acknowledgment Is a Key Factor

1. Know Facts About the Fall

The first step to prevent falling is to acknowledge it. Seniors should be aware that they’re challenged with the risk of falling. This will increase their level of attentiveness to themselves as they carry out their daily life activities.

2. Know Your Health Condition

know your health condition-fall prevention

Having a doctor checkup regularly is essential for seniors. Whether you’re taking new pills or you have to change your eyeglasses, consulting your doctor will prevent many health issues. 

Many elders may refrain from visiting their doctors, as long as they feel fine. Yet, when you experience any slight change or discomfort, a trip to your doctor will prevent any potential falls.

Physical Care 

The most significant change as people age is the decrease in their physical abilities and strength. Taking good care of their bodies can boost energy and protect them from fall risks.

1. Keeping an Active Lifestyle

Inactivity among seniors can be among the risk factors for falls. Having a weaker body means your energy, alertness, and flexibility are decreasing bit by bit. In addition, an idle lifestyle increases joint stiffness and weakens your muscles. 

To prevent falls, taking on physical activity is a must. You don’t have to go to extreme lengths. In fact, activities such as stair climbing, jogging, and yoga are suitable for boosting flexibility and steadiness. 

2. Wear Safe Shoes

When you’re out and about, it’s best to wear comfortable shoes with good grip, a deep tread, and a low heel, to lower the risk of twisting your ankle, slipping, or tripping.

At home, wearing slippers with non-skid bottoms can be a great way to prevent falling and to diminish joint discomfort, unlike socks that present a real risk to elders. You can also opt for velcro shoes for outdoor activities.

3. Avoid Wearing Loose Clothing

I know that wearing comfy and loose clothes is such a blessing. However, they may cause elders to fall, especially if they are super slack. It’s best to wear correctly fitted clothing, something that’s not too tight or too baggy in order to prevent tripping and falling.

Safe Environment  

Another thing to consider when it comes to what to do when elderly keep falling is providing them with a senior-friendly, safe space that will decrease fall risks. This is regardless of whether you live with your old parents or if they live independently.

1. Use Mobility Aids

mobility aids for fall prevention

As we have previously mentioned in ‘why do old people fall,’ handrail support is helpful. Unfortunately, some stairs have no handrails, leading to potential falls. If your stairs are not secure, it’s time to install handrails to help seniors feel more secure and steady while climbing the stairs. They can also use walkers or walking canes that can support them while walking or when doing their regular daily activities.

2. Remove Hazards at Home

Your aging parent’s house may be stuffed with unnecessary furniture here and there, leaving no path for them to walk.  A rug in the wrong place or a displaced sofa may be the reason for senior falls. Tripping over things is a high-risk fall factor among seniors. 

As a result, it’s advisable to move any potential obstacles from the hallway, living room, or the space between the door and the bed. This way, you create a safe walking path for the elderly to move freely. 

3. Install a Medical Alert System

Using technology can be a great tool to get the assistance and support you need. Every 20 minutes, a senior is found dead due to a fall, according to the National Council on aging. In this aspect, installing a medical alert system can help detect whenever a senior falls down.

As soon as the fall is detected, the alert system conveys a signal to the call center to inform them.  Some of them come without a monthly fee.

Here are some of the best medical alert systems:

4. Light up Living Space

how to prevent falls

It’s not enough to have multiple lights around your house—they should be distributed in the right places with good light quality. It’s highly advisable to avoid bright lamps that can dazzle a senior’s sight and bewilder them. 

Instead, you can opt for a warm subtle light bulb that can help elders see the way without blinding them.  For bathroom safety, you can also consider installing a toilet light.

Get Assistance

get assistant to prevent falls in seniors

If you start to notice yourself holding onto walls and furniture, struggling to get up from your chair, or unable to climb the stairs, it’s important to hire a physical therapist. This is exactly what to do when elderly keep falling—get assistance. 

The therapist will help you enhance your physical strength, flexibility, and balance. As a result, you may prevent falls in the long term. 

Yet, if the issue you’re facing does not require expert intervention, you can rely on a walking aid. For example, you can get a walking cane to help regain your steadiness or you can purchase a good mobility scooter if you or your loved ones love to go out often.


Falling can be fatal for elders, causing them long-term health problems like a broken hip or wrist. Why do old people fall? It’s down to many factors. It can be related to physical issues, an unsafe environment, or a lack of assistance. 

Luckily, the solutions mentioned above can be effective in preventing the risk of falling and can save you a trip to the hospital and future health problems. Feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comment section.

Cherry is the editor-in-chief of Mobility With Love. She obtained a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a master's degree in Adapted Physical Activity. Her expertise includes biomechanics, biochemistry, nutrition, disability studies, and so on.

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