Drinking Alcohol and Falls among Older Adults: Important Facts to Know

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

         Overview

I.   Alcohol and Falls

II.  Risk of Falls

III. Resources

IV.  Reference

So preventing falls among senior citizens is a major public health concern.

I. Alcohol and Falls

To see if alcohol and falls are connected, researchers studied 2,170 community-dwelling persons age 60 or older. At the beginning of the study, participants 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.

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. These include

Many medications 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 medications
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Diuretics
  • Sedative-hypnotics.

III. Resources on Falls

These books and videos show practical ways to reduce the risk of falling.

ABC Int’l. Preventing Falls. NY: Films Media, 2013. (Video)

Evans, B. Accidental Falls. NY: Nova, 2015.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among the elderly.

Fredrikson, E. How to Avoid Falling. Richmond Hill, Ont.: Firefly, 2004.

HCPro. Falls Prevention. Marblehead, MA: HCPro, 2005. (Video)

Haslam, R. and Stubbs, D. Understanding and Preventing Falls. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, 2006.

Falling is the most common cause of nonfatal accidents leading to hospital admissions among older adults.

Kendzior, R. Falls Aren’t Funny. Lanham, MD: Gov’t Inst., 2010.

Nat. Safety Compliance. Slips, Trips and Falls. Springfield, MO: Nat. Safety Compliance, 2009. (Video)

Lord, S. Falls in Older People: Risk Factors and Strategies for Prevention. NY: Cambridge U. Press, 2011.

Tideiksaar, R. Falling in Old Age: Prevention. NY: Springer, 1997.

Vincent, M. and Moreau, T. Accidental Falls: Causes, Prevention and Intervention. NY: Nova, 2008.

WHO. Global Report on Falls Prevention in Older Age. Geneva: WHO, 2007.

IV. Reference for Alcohol and Falls

1 Ortolá, R., et al. Patterns of alcohol consumption and risk of falls in older adults: a prospective cohort study.  Osteoporosis Int. First Online: 19 July 2017.  doi: 10.1007/s00198-017-4157-2.