The conditions that affect many seniors can also increase your risk of falling.
Since physical changes and many conditions are a part of aging, it's not always possible to remove these blocks from your risk tower. Learning how these medical conditions lead to falls is the first step towards understanding the risks.
|If you have…||…then falls can be a concern because|
|Heart disease or failure (CHF)||Heart conditions can cause dizziness, balance problems, muscle weakness and fatigue, even with only slight exertion. Heart disease is also frequently associated with respiratory difficulties, which can result in many of the same falls-related conditions.|
|Had a stroke||Strokes often result in muscle weakness, and/or sensory imbalances on one side of the body, which can compromise one’s ability to move about safely.|
|Parkinson’s Disease||Tremors, stiff aching muscles, and slow limited movement (especially when the person tries to move from a resting position) are all falls risks associated with Parkinson’s. A person with Parkinson's disease is likely to take small steps and shuffle with his or her feet close together, bend forward slightly at the waist (stooped posture), and have trouble turning around. Balance and posture problems may result in frequent falls, especially as the disease progresses.|
|Low blood pressure||Low blood pressure, particularly when rising from a lying or sitting position, is a common cause of falls due to dizziness and/or fainting.|
|Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)||The shortness of breath that is caused by COPD (chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema) can make you feel weak, dizzy or faint, even when you do simple things like get dressed or fix a meal.|
|Diabetes||Diabetes can cause a loss of feeling in the feet (diabetic ‘neuropathy’), which compromises your balance and sense of where obstacles and uneven footing may be a hazard.|
|Arthritis||The loss of joint flexibility due to arthritis makes it difficult to maintain a safe gait, to avoid potentially dangerous obstacles, and maintain balance.|
|Vision problems||A decrease in vision, whether caused by glaucoma and cataracts, or just aging eyes, makes it far more difficult to judge distance and avoid obstacles that could trip you up. This is naturally a particular concern at night or when in the dark.|
|Mental confusion||Mental confusion can increase the chance of a fall since it may be more difficult to determine whether an activity is putting one at greater risk, or it may take longer to respond to a situation where a fall might otherwise be averted.|