Risk factors for falls among older adults: A review of the literature

Anne Felicia Ambrose, Geet Paul, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1169 Scopus citations


Falls are one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity in older adults. Every year, an estimated 30-40% of patients over the age of 65 will fall at least once. Falls lead to moderate to severe injuries, fear of falling, loss of independence and death in a third of those patients. The direct costs alone from fall related injuries are a staggering 0.1% of all healthcare expenditures in the United States and up to 1.5% of healthcare costs in European countries. This figure does not include the indirect costs of loss of income both to the patient and caregiver, the intangible losses of mobility, confidence, and functional independence. Numerous studies have attempted to define the risk factors for falls in older adults. The present review provides a brief summary and update of the relevant literature, summarizing demographic and modifiable risk factors. The major risk factors identified are impaired balance and gait, polypharmacy, and history of previous falls. Other risk factors include advancing age, female gender, visual impairments, cognitive decline especially attention and executive dysfunction, and environmental factors. Recommendations for the clinician to manage falls in older patients are also summarized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Aging
  • Balance
  • Fall risk
  • Gait


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