Issues in Geriatric Care: Falls

FP Essent. 2018 May:468:18-25.


One in three older adults falls each year. There are approximately 2.5 million falls among older adults treated in emergency departments. Falls account for 87% of all fractures in this age group. The biggest risk factor for falling is a history of falls. Other risk factors include frailty, sedative and anticholinergic drugs, polypharmacy, and a variety of medical conditions. Current recommendations are that all patients age 65 years and older should be asked about falls each year. Patients also can be screened for fall risk with a variety of approaches including questionnaires and the Timed Up & Go test. For patients who have fallen or are at risk, care should focus on correcting reversible home environmental factors that predispose to falls, minimizing the use of drugs with sedating properties, addressing vision conditions, recommending physical exercise (including balance, strength, and gait training), and managing postural hypotension as well as foot conditions and footwear. In addition, vitamin D and calcium supplementation should be considered. For patients needing anticoagulation for medical reasons, an assessment must balance fall risk (and thus bleeding from a fall) versus the risk of discontinuing anticoagulation (eg, sustaining an embolic stroke from atrial fibrillation).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology