Risk Factors

Several factors that increase fall risk have been identified through research. These include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Difficulties with gait and balance
  • Use of psychoactive medications CDC - STEADI Medications Linked to Falls
  • Poor vision
  • Problems with feet and/or shoes
  • Home hazards
  • Postural dizziness
  • Fear of Falling
  • Age > 80
  • History of previous fall
  • Chronic conditions including arthritis, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, incontinence, dementia

For a link to the CDC risk factor summary document click here (CDC Risk Factors for Falls)

Clinical practice guidelines to address fall risk were developed by the American Geriatrics Society in collaboration with the British Geriatrics Society and published in 2010 (PDF link of summary). Based on these guidelines the Centers for Disease Control have developed a comprehensive falls screening and intervention tool called STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries). For a link to the tool, click here (www.cdc.gov/steadi). The US Preventive Services Task Force also published recommendations for screening an intervention in 2012. The USPSTF link can be found here United States Preventive Services Task Force Link

At a minimum, health care providers should screen individuals 65 and older each year for falls. Those at higher risk could benefit from a multifactorial falls intervention.  The three STEADI tool fall screening questions are:

  • Have you fallen in the past year?
  • Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
  • Do you worry about falling?

The STEADI algorithm to determine fall risk can be found here: STEADI Algorithm