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3 Different Types of Elderly Falls Explained

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Being knowledgeable of the three different types of falls is critical in taking the next steps to avoid future incidents. You can start by evaluating older adults’ fall risk based on their physical ability, mental status, and past medical history. Understanding fall risks and fall types can equip older adults and their caregivers to take steps to prevent them. 

The three types of falls are anticipated, unanticipated, and accidental. Based on the type of fall your loved one has experienced, you can plan your steps to mitigate future falls.

To help the reader understand fall types and risks, we provide examples and recommendations.

Elderly adult and caregiver

The three types of falls explained

There are three types of falls among the elderly are:

  1. Anticipated falls that occur in adults who have risk factors for falls that can be identified in advance
  2. Unanticipated falls occur in adults with a low fall risk, but unexpected events such as a seizure or stroke could not be anticipated; and
  3. Accidental falls occur in low-risk patients due to an environmental hazard.

How to determine the severity of fall-risk

Here are some questions you might ask yourself to establish an individual's fall risk level. This checklist might also assist you in preparing for your appointment with your doctor.

  • Is there a history of falling (recent or in the past)?
  • Does the adult have 2 or more medical conditions?
  • Does the adult use an assistive device to move around?
  • Crutches
  • Canes
  • Walker
  • Grab bars
  • Does the adult show signs of poor walking gait?
  • Are there signs of poor mental status?
  • Forgets
  • Overestimates own ability

If you replied "yes" to some of these questions, you may be at a high risk of falling and should consult your doctor. People who have fallen frequently cite causes for their falls. "I didn't notice the water on the floor, so I slid," "I'll make sure it doesn't happen again," or "I just lost my balance," for example. When answering these questions, remember to pause and ask yourself, "Was this truly an unintentional fall?"



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