Common Fall Risk Factors

Risk factors that can increase your chance of falling

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This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

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    It is important to know the common causes of falling so you can work to prevent them. Falls amongst the elderly can cause serious damage so it is important to know what is most likely to cause you to fall. Risk factors don’t mean you will definitely fall, they just make your chances more likely.

    What Are Fall Risk Factors?

    Fall risk factors increase an older person’s chance of falling. Fall prevention aims to eliminate as many of these risk factors as possible. Fall prevention reduces your chance of hospital admission and makes you less likely to have severe injuries from falling.

    Home Hazards

    Hazards in and around the home can greatly increase the risk of falling. Common home hazards include:

    • Loose carpets and rugs
    • Untidy house
    • Spillages

    Read more about home fall hazards here.

    Medical Conditions Related to a Higher Risk of Falling

    Certain medical conditions can cause symptoms such as dizziness, and decreased mobility which can increase your risk of falling.

    Conditions that can increase your risk of falling include:

    • Arthritis
    • Diabetes
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Cardiovascular diseases
    • Blood disorders
    • Thyroid problems
    • Muscle weakening disorders
    • Sensory disorders

    Conditions such as Arthritis and Parkinson’s disease reduce your mobility or can make moving painful. This can make you more likely to trip and make it harder to react quickly and grab something to prevent yourself from falling.

    Sensory disorders such as vision and hearing problems can alter your depth perception and affect your balance.

    Diabetes and blood disorders can cause nerve damage which can affect the feeling and sensation in your ankles and feet, this can make it harder to walk. Also, drops in blood glucose levels can cause dizziness.


    Dizziness and lightheadedness can severely affect your balance. If you begin to feel dizzy you should sit or lie down until the feeling passes and drink plenty of water. Dizziness can sometimes lead to fainting.

    Common causes of dizziness are:

    • Drop-in blood pressure
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Anxiety
    • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
    • Dehydration

    Weak Muscles

    As we get older our muscles naturally get weaker. Weak muscles can affect balance, mobility and put more pressure on our joints. However, there are numerous reasons why our muscles can become weaker.

    Reasons why our muscles get weaker include:

    • Decreased physical activity
    • Infections
    • Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis

    Poor Balance

    Poor balance is a very common risk factor of falling, there are many things that can cause poor balance including:

    • Weak muscles
    • Previous injuries
    • Medications
    • Conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s and low blood pressure
    • Ear infections

    Foot and Ankle Problems

    Foot problems can affect your mobility, balance and make it difficult to exercise often.

    Foot and ankle problems include:

    • Arthritis in the foot and ankle
    • Bunions
    • Ingrown toenails
    • Corns and Calluses
    • Foot drop


    Medications can cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and reduce alertness. Medications that can have these side effects include; blood pressure-lowering medications, sedatives and sleeping tablets, anticonvulsants, antihypertensives and anti-anxiety drugs.