Aging Parents: The Falls Quiz

Everyone knows falls in older adults is bad news. They are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in this age group. Every 22 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. That’s 66 deaths a day.

If they don’t die from the fall, they usually wind up with a condition called “post-fall syndrome.” This is characterized by limited activity due to fear of falling again, loss of confidence and decline in function. Not surprising, this is a downward spiral of increased dependence, diminished QOL (quality of life) and increased risk for nursing home placement. Now what?

It’s not a case of where we don’t how this happens. We do. We have extensive data about the risks, screening, and evidenced-based management of fall prevention. But it takes an informed, steady collective response to implement what we know to prevent disaster. This quiz is designed to find out what we all know about the fall epidemic in older adults as a first in mapping out a collective response.

Quiz and Answers

1. The presence of which risk factor indicates the highest likelihood of future falls?

Psychoactive medications that includes antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedative-hypnotics, and benzodiazepines.

2. What is the profile of an older adult who is most likely to have a serious fall with injuries?

Female, low body mass index, cognitive impairment

3. What simple screening test is a great predictor for falls?

The inability to stand up from a chair without using arms is a great predictor for falls

4. What are the evidence-based interventions that reduce the chances of falling?

Match extent of the intervention to the severity of risk for falls classified as low, moderate or high risk

5. Does walking several times a week reduce falls in relatively inactive older adults?

Not enough…Easy Steps Walking Trail found no difference in rate of falls in relatively inactive older adults walking several times per week…You need to have a program with progressive strength and balance training

6. What class of medications confer the greatest risk for falls?

Psychoactive medications that includes antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedative-hypnotics, and benzodiazepines.

7. Does supplementation with vitamin D in older adults with low serum levels of vitamin D reduce the risk of falling?

Yes…important for muscle strength and balance in lower extremities

8. In older adults with orthostatic hypotension, what steps can be taken to reduce the risk of falls?

Slow changes in position (sit up on side of bed for one minute before standing, and once standing, stand still for one minute before walking), compression stockings, increasing intake of water, sitting or lying when symptoms occur, elevate head of bed, liberalize intake of salt.

9. What is the STEADI kit?

Available on the CDC website (, STEADI stands for “Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries” and includes a checklist to look for modifiable environmental risk factors.