Alcohol and Falls among Older Adults: Facts

Are alcohol and falls linked among older people? This is an important question. Falls are a major health problem for the elderly. For instance, 95% of hip fractures result from falls. About half the time. a broken hip leads to a downward spiral to death.

Preventing falls among seniors is a major public health concern.

       Overview

I.   Alcohol and Falls

II.  Risk of Falls

III. Resources

I. Alcohol and Falls

To see if alcohol and falls are linked, researchers studied 2,170 community-dwelling persons. They were age 60 or older. At the beginning of the study, people reported their alcohol consumption. At the end of about three years, they reported any falls within the previous year.

Researchers compared moderate drinkers with life-long alcohol abstainers. Those who drank in moderation were 21% less likely to fall. They were 33% less likely to have a fall needing medical help. And they were 42% less likely to have two or more falls.1

Abstaining from alcohol appears to be a risk factor for falls among older adults. We can reduce that risk by drinking in moderation.

Fast Falling Facts

    • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older people.
    • Falling is the most common cause of nonfatal accidents leading to hospital admissions among the elderly.

II. Risk of Falls

Some general risk factors for falling are being older, being female, and having a history of falling.

Many diseases and conditions also contribute to fall risk. They include these.

    • Balance disorders.
    • Cognitive impairments.
    • Knee pain.
    • Lower back pain.
    • Low blood pressure.
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Osteoporosis
    • Parkinson’s disease.
    • Stroke
    • Vertebral fracture.
    • Visual impairments.

Many meds increase the risk of falls. They can do so either alone or in combination. They include

    • alcohol and fallsAnti-arrhythmics
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-hypertensives
    • Anti-seizure meds
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Diuretics
    • Sedative-hypnotics.

Other causes of falls.

    • Throw rugs.
    • No nightlight.
    • Lack of handrails in bathroom.

III. Resources on Falls

Videos
Web
Books
Footnote

1. Ortolá, R., et al. Patterns of alcohol consumption and risk of falls in older adults. A prospective cohort study. Ost Int.

Note
    • This site gives no advice. Please see your doctor for answers.