What would cause sudden falling?

6 answers | Last updated: Sep 25, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a friend who is 67 years and in good health. Recently she has been falling for no apparent reason. This has happened twice within a week and both were public places. Fortunately she was not hurt; however this is concerning. What would be the cause?

Thank you!

Expert Answers

Bonita Lynn Beattie is the vice president for injury prevention for the Center for Healthy Aging, part of the National Council on Aging (NCOA). She directs the NCOA's Falls Free Initiative, which is developing and implementing a national action plan to prevent falls and fall-related injuries in older adults.

You are right to be concerned. Falls are not a normal consequence of aging and the research evidence tells us a history of falling is a good indication of a heightened risk for additional falls. We also know sooner or later repeated falls will result in an injury.

There are a number of possible reasons for someone to suddenly begin falling. Fortunately, most of them can be modified to reduce the risk of future falling. It would however be best to encourage your friend to visit her primary care provider for a physical assessment that includes as a minimum: balance and gait, medications and vision all of which can cause of falls.

For additional information the CDC offers a nice brochure entitled What YOU Can Do To Prevent Falls that addresses the more common risk factors for falling.

Meanwhile, if you and your friend can think about the circumstances of those fall events it can also help to pin point the cause and to facilitate a constructive dialogue with the health care provider.

In addition, making some modifications to the home can enhance our day to day safety in an environment where we often feel the safest, yet up to 60% of falls occur in our own homes. Look to the CDC for a brochure on home safety Check For Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults. It offers both a simple checklist and suggestions for improvement. (I would recommend that readers at any age use the checklist to assess their own homes).

Finally, the outdoor environment is often risky as well with uneven pavement and all sorts of natural tripping hazards. Being a little more alert to environmental hazards and reminding your friend to let her eyes adjust when going from the bright outdoors to darkened interiors or when wearing darkened eyeglasses inside can be helpful.

Fall prevention strategies apply at any age. We want to keep everyone safe from preventable falls active in the community for years to come and hope that these suggestions have been useful.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

For one u didn't answer the question ..the question is what makes u fall for no reason & u did all the test and they came back good.

Caringdenise answered...

Thank you Bonita, for taking the time to post an expert response for "anonymous caregiver," with suggestions for where more information can be found. I'd also add that Caring.com has information about falls here: https://www.caring.com/falling-down-injuries

For the individual who posted "what makes u fall for no reason & u did all the test and they came back good," as Bonita noted, "There are a number of possible reasons for someone to suddenly begin falling," and this is a great question to discuss in detail with your loved one's doctor(s). Thanks for asking!

Leit answered...

My husband fell at home last year, as his right leg gave way. When we went to the emergency room, the MRI revealed he had a herniated disc at L2. He had surgery that week. Keep searching for a diagnosis and if the primary care doctor can't find one, then ask for referral to a specialist.

A fellow caregiver answered...

About 30% of the people have ideopathic drop attacks. That means, there are no known causes. Usually happens when the person is standing or walking. Mostly occurs to people between 40 to 60 years of age. I am in that 30%. I have had drop attacks without any known cause. They come without warning. I am conscious; do not get dizzy or have vertigo; my legs do not buckle; I do not lose my balance; I did not slip nor trip on anything.

I have been tested for balance, my heart and lungs were checked. I was given a 24-hour holter test. There was a CT scan of my brain, an MRI of my neck and an electroencephalogram. Blood tests and blood pressure were taken. They all came back within normal limits.

Just do exercises to strengthen your muscles and your bones so that when you have any future drop attacks you won't break any bones and if you suffer any bruises, you'll recover much faster. Especially, exercise your knees. Ride a bike or use a stationary bike. It's a good exercise for people that have arthritis of the knees.

Pianodoglady answered...

I am 72 and this morning I woke up, sat up and had no sense of balance - I fell over on the bed. I waited a bit, then got up and walked along the wall until I had to pass an area where there was no wall - I had no balance and fell hard to the side. It felt like the floor rose up on one side and tilted me over. I recovered in a few minutes, but I have been working hard out in the yard for several weeks and I guess I needed to spend a day resting. I am pretty sure it is inner ear, maybe due to sinusitis. If it happens again, I guess I had better go to my doctor.