Why do old people fall down a lot?

I know, sounds really dumb...but I am curious.

My grandmother, about 3 years ago, fell for the first time. She gradually went from having her own home, to having an appt, to being in an assited living home, to being in a full on nursing home. She died last December, and it seemed that the last year she went down hill VERY quickly.

My other grandmother has been falling a LOT recently. She was moved out of her home and into assisted living about 2 months ago; she'd cracked some ribs and needed to heal. She then moved into my parents home (after about a month in the asst. living), and ended up falling there twice. My parents re-arranged their entire home, removed carpeting, etc, things that she couldn't trip on. The last time she fell, my dad had to call 911 to help get her up.

So, she's now back in asst. living and will likely stay. I am assuming that within the next year, she will be gone as well.

So, why do old people randomly fall? Unsure footing? Low blood sugar? Low blood pressure?

It seems that once the falling starts, it's all downhill from there.
Their balance gets off kilter and they aren't as strong as they used to be.

I've seen this just in the past couple years with my mom (she'll turn 79 in November). She knows it too and it makes her mad. She says her balance is just "off". And despite going to the gym three times a week, her legs and her back/core just aren't as strong as they were, which leads to randomly tumping over.
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Yeah, they are/were in their early 80's.
They lose their balance. Their sense of equilibrium isn't as good, or they may be having some mini strokes (also called TIA - transient ischemic attack) and their bones don't heal as well or as quickly as a young person's. They may also have some boneloss (osteoporosis), which comes with aging and makes bones more fragile. Falling is indeed one of the worst things an old person can have happen to them. It leads to long convalescence and weakness, which causes more loss of balance and more falls and more deterioration, rinse, repeat. Fully recovering from something like a broken hip in old age is actually quite rare. More often it leads down a road to fraility and incapacitation.
Also, their reflexes aren't as good and they're not as flexible. Instances where you and I might stumble and catch ourselves, old people just tumble right down.
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I know, sounds really dumb...but I am curious.

My grandmother, about 3 years ago, fell for the first time. She gradually went from having her own home, to having an appt, to being in an assited living home, to being in a full on nursing home. She died last December, and it seemed that the last year she went down hill VERY quickly.

My other grandmother has been falling a LOT recently. She was moved out of her home and into assisted living about 2 months ago; she'd cracked some ribs and needed to heal. She then moved into my parents home (after about a month in the asst. living), and ended up falling there twice. My parents re-arranged their entire home, removed carpeting, etc, things that she couldn't trip on. The last time she fell, my dad had to call 911 to help get her up.

So, she's now back in asst. living and will likely stay. I am assuming that within the next year, she will be gone as well.

So, why do old people randomly fall? Unsure footing? Low blood sugar? Low blood pressure?

It seems that once the falling starts, it's all downhill from there.
Originally Posted by M2LR
Yep...it seems when they leave their home, that's it. I've seen it too many times in my fam, which is why hubby knows that ain't for me. I hope to go in my sleep...
I take an extreme exercise class. The instructor was telling us how as we age our stabilizer muscles get weak. They are the muscles that give us balance. She says we should all do exercises to keep them in shape. Of course, that is easier said than done.
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I take an extreme exercise class. The instructor was telling us how as we age our stabilizer muscles get weak. They are the muscles that give us balance. She says we should all do exercises to keep them in shape. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Originally Posted by munchkin

Exercise certainly does help delay the infirmaties of old age. Especially weightlifting. Lots of old people do aerobic exercise, but not enough of them do strength training. They should try to incorporate it, at least at a mild to moderate level.
I've been going to school to be an occupational therapist and we've learned that it can be any number of things (other than what was already said in this thread) depending on the person and their environment. It also has can do with things such as lighting/ vision and sensation.

I would highly recommend pushing for a referral for occupational therapy. They specialize in this kind of thing. If you get a good OT they should have a lot of suggestions and ideas for your grandmother.

Here's a website with a little bit of information:
http://www.promoteot.org/AI_Fall.html
Another relatively common cause of falls is medication side effects. Lots of older folks take lots of meds which can interact and result in falls.
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core strengthening is also very important, keeping a strong core will probably help out as we age.
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omg, when i was younger i was sooo annoyed by the older people around me and their fear of falling. i just didn't get it, "okay, if you fall down, i'll just help you up." now they're all dead...i wonder if i'll worry about falling too.
omg, when i was younger i was sooo annoyed by the older people around me and their fear of falling. i just didn't get it, "okay, if you fall down, i'll just help you up." now they're all dead...i wonder if i'll worry about falling too.
Originally Posted by frau
Wait till you get older. The ground suddenly is a lot farther away and harder to get to and up from!!
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Yeah, that "I've fallen and I can't get up" ad that we all make fun of is really no joke!

Some diseases affect the balance too -- my dad has Parkinson's and he is very liable to fall. Plus he tends to forget that he's supposed to use his walker.

He has had two bad falls in which he just got off balance in his own home. The first time he broke four ribs and the second time he broke his hip. He recovered fairly well, but the rehab stays were very rough on him. (Being away from his familiar environment made him very confused.)

I know that yoga has helped my own balance a lot, and I hope to keep doing yoga the rest of my life.
omg, when i was younger i was sooo annoyed by the older people around me and their fear of falling. i just didn't get it, "okay, if you fall down, i'll just help you up." now they're all dead...i wonder if i'll worry about falling too.
Originally Posted by frau
Wait till you get older. The ground suddenly is a lot farther away and harder to get to and up from!!
Originally Posted by munchkin

Yes, and if you've already experienced a fall, it's even more scary. I fell at 40 and smashed my ankle to smitherines, and it took me 2 years to recover. I don't think I could recover from that at 75 or 80.
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