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Common causes of falls

Here we look at some of the more common causes of falls, together with ways in which these risks can be reduced.
2 min read
In this article
Why do falls happen? How can assistive technology help if a fall occurs?

Why do falls happen?


Many older people fall for reasons that may be ‘avoidable’; for example, loose carpets or rugs that present a trip hazard, or insufficient lighting on a stairway. By carrying out a few simple checks, you may be able help your loved one make their home safer. You can find a checklist to help you reduce the risk of falls in the home.


A significant number of falls in older people occur during ‘transfers’. This is the term a healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist, uses to describe the act of moving (or attempting to move) from one position to another. For example, going from:

  • sitting to standing, such as getting out of a chair or bed
  • standing to sitting, such as lowering down on to a chair or bed
  • sitting to another sitting position, such as moving from a toilet to a wheelchair, or vice versa.

Even though those movements and tasks may seem simple – and you may have recently performed them confidently – they can present a challenge if you become less mobile or your strength reduces.


In many cases, transfers and other activities can be made easier and safer by the use of certain equipment, aids or technologies. Occupational therapists often have excellent knowledge of these products, and can advise on suitable solutions based on abilities and needs.


You may also benefit from exercises to help improve your mobility, strength or balance. A physiotherapist can provide further advice.


Stairs are also a major risk area for falls. Read our advice on how to spot common hazards on stairs and stairways, as well as tips on how to reduce the risk of falls on the stairs.



How can assistive technology help if a fall occurs?


Assistive technology can give you reassurance that if you have a fall, help will be available at the push of a button. It can also give provide reassurance to family members or friends who care for you.


If you’re potentially at risk of falling, you might want to think about using a personal alarm or a fall detector so you can summon help if you need it. These are simple devices and you won't necessarily have to wear them around your neck. For example, there are personal alarms available that look like a watch or can be fastened to a belt.

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Further reading

Falls prevention

If your loved one has had a fall, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of it happening again.

Personal alarms

Read about how personal alarms can help older people feel safer at home and remain independent for longer.

Last updated: 04 Sep 2019