Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

What causes falls?

The natural ageing process often places older adults at an increased risk of having a fall. In Australia, injuries that are caused by falls are the most common cause of death in people over the age of 75. There are three main reasons why older people are more likely to have a fall. These are:

  • chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, dementia and low blood pressure (hypotension), which can cause dizziness
  • impairments, such as poor vision or muscle weakness
  • illnesses that can affect balance, such as labyrinthitis (inflammation of the delicate structure deep inside the ear known as the 'labyrinth').

Chronic health conditions, such as those listed above, can sometimes cause a loss of balance, a brief loss of consciousness or fainting, or a sudden feeling of dizziness, all of which could all contribute to a fall. Visual impairment or muscle weakness may also make it more difficult for an older person to prevent a fall.

Among older adults, the most common reasons for accidentally falling or slipping include:

  • wet or recently polished floors, such as in a bathroom
  • dim light
  • rugs or carpets that are not properly secured
  • reaching for storage areas, such as cupboards
  • stairs.

Another common cause of falls, particularly among older men, is falling from a ladder while carrying out home maintenance work.

In older women, falls can be particularly troublesome because osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of the bones) is a widespread problem which increases the chance of fractures following a fall.

Sources: myagedcare (Help with falls prevention), NHS Choices, UK (Falls)

Last reviewed: September 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 1117 results

Children and falls at home - NT.GOV.AU

Falls are the most common cause of injuries to children. Find out where falls are most likely to happen and how to prevent them.

Read more on NT Health website

Moving Safely | Osteoporosis Australia

Preventing Falls - why it's important For people with osteoporosis, even a minor fall can cause a broken bone, so preventing falls has become an important part of managing bone health. Half of all falls occur around the home and approx one third of people over 65 fall each year. It is estimated around 6% of falls result in a broken bone. Falls are most commonly caused by

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Head injuries

Children's heads are often hurt when they fall over or bump into something hard. Sometimes bangs on the head can cause very severe harm, but often small knocks just cause bruising and pain for a short while.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Preventing falls

Falls and fall related injuries are the leading cause of injury and hospitalisation for older people in Australia but you can take simple steps to prevent them.

Read more on WA Health website

Dizziness and balance

Do you often feel dizzy? Being steady and safe is important for keeping your balance and staying independent. There are many reasons why people feel dizzy. Doctors can work out the causes, and dizziness can be easily treated in many cases.

Read more on SA Health website

Playgrounds | Kids Health

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Acidosis and alkalosis - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website


Most headaches are not serious. However, sometimes, when associated with other signs and symptoms, headaches may be an indication of a serious underlying condition.

Read more on WA Health website

Standing up to falls

Plan what you would do if you fall over No one expects to have a fall, but having a plan will help you to be confident and get on with life.

Read more on SA Health website

Falls from windows and balconies | Kids Health

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo