Falls are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in people ages 65 and older in the US, constituting 55% of all cases.  Data collected between 2000-2013 demonstrate that this rate has been increasing. In 2012-2013, the rate of death due to falls among people ages 85 and over was 4 times higher than among people ages 75-84, and 16 times higher than among people ages 65-74.
In the US, 1 in 5 falls in older individuals results in serious injury.  Annually, 2.5 million older people are treated in the emergency department because of falls, with 700,000 subsequently admitted to the hospital, 250,000 of whom are admitted for hip fracture. 
Identifying the circumstances surrounding, and the symptoms associated with, a fall helps to determine the underlying cause, which in turn emphasizes the importance of obtaining a detailed history of the fall. Identifying the cause will determine whether a more urgent medical evaluation is necessary to address life-threatening causes of falls and their consequences. This investigation will also help to identify the risk factor(s) most likely to be contributing to falls and allow the implementation of appropriate interventions to reduce the risk of future falls.
Falls are often multifactorial in origin.  The presence of the following factors is associated with greater probability of future falls,   and falls screening guidelines suggest identification of these characteristics in at-risk people can be useful in the implementation of falls prevention strategies:
Polypharmacy or certain medications (particularly psychotropic medications) 
Impairment of activities of daily living 
Environmental hazards (e.g., loose rugs, poor lighting, clutter) 
Additional factors such as age or comorbid illnesses. 
Key components of many fall-prevention programs include addressing the risk factors, advocating exercise (including strength and balance training), review of medications taken, vision assessment, and a home safety assessment, with modifications as deemed necessary.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force, for example, recommends exercise (e.g., tai chi or yoga) or physical therapy, plus vitamin D supplementation, for prevention of falls in community-dwelling adults ≥65 years of age who are at increased risk of falls,   though meta-analyses have not shown benefit. 
Several guidelines have examined the implementation of such interventions to prevent falls:
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program Director
Center for Geriatric Medicine, Medicine Institute
RF is a Pfizer stockholder.
Professor of Medicine
Division of Geriatric Medicine
Saint Louis University
DT declares that he has no competing interests.
Nuffield Department of Medicine
John Radcliffe Hospital
AD declares that he has no competing interests.
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