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Roughly 50% of falls in the elderly follow a trip or an accident, with a mere 5% caused by dizziness. 5% are accompanied by loss of consciousness, 10% are a result of the legs giving way for no reason. The remaining 30% are unexplained.

The reasons for increasing rates of falls, and morbidity associated with falls in the elderly are broadly based on:

  • poorer motor responses, with some abnormal gaits, such as that of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease being more common in the aged

  • poorer protective mechanisms - where the elderly fail to put out their arms to save themselves, leading to reduced upper limb morbidity but increased damage to other structures

  • loss of fitness, as a result of disuse, often as a result of society's expectations

Possible risk factors for falling include:

  • history of falls
  • gait deficit, balance deficit
  • mobility impairment
  • visual impairment
  • cognitive impairment
  • urinary incontinence
  • home hazard - poor lighting, loose carpets
  • number of medication
  • muscle weakness (1)


Last reviewed 01/2018