Six things that cause seniors to fall

Falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospital admissions among the elderly population.

“According to the National Council on Aging, one out of every four Americans aged 65 and older falls every year,” said Mary O'Connor, director of operations at the Senior Helpers Oak Brook Office. “Not only are more seniors falling, but they are also more susceptible to fall-related injuries, such as a broken hip or head trauma.”

There are six factors that contribute to the fact that seniors fall so much more frequently than younger people.

Here are some ways to help prevent these falls.

Decline in physical fitness: The failure to engage in even mild exercise on a regular basis results in reduced muscle strength, loss of balance, coordination and decreased bone mass. Start exercising at least two to three times a week.

Impaired vision: Age-related eye disease make it difficult to detect fall hazards such as steps, puddles and thresholds. Seniors must follow a physician's recommendations for treatment, including wearing eyeglasses and using necessary low vision equipment.

Medications: A variety of medications can increase a senior's risk of falling. Medication side effects can cause drowsiness, dizziness and low blood pressure.

Taking multiple medications increases the risk of medication interactions and falling. Physicians should be notified of any of these side effects so they can determine a course of action to prevent accidents from happening.

Chronic diseases: Health conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and certain types of arthritis can cause weakness in the extremities, poor grip strength and balance issues.

Poor physical health can increase a risk of falling. Various exercise programs have been developed to improve a senior's health. Physical therapy can also be beneficial.

Surgical procedures: Hip replacements and other surgeries can leave an elderly person weak, in pain and discomfort. They may be less mobile than they were before. Patients need physical therapy to help them heal and an exercise program to address these issues.

Environmental hazards: The majority of falls occur around the senior's home due to poor lighting, clutter, areas of disrepair, loose carpets, slick floors and the lack of safety equipment. It is important to correct these hazards to prevent accidents from happening. Hire companies that can make the necessary repairs for safety.

• For more information about Senior Helpers, call (630) 359-5775, email Mary O'Connor at, or visit the website

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