Commonly used in older adults, a fall risk assessment checks your risk of falling. Healthcare providers use multiple tests to identify your risk factors, such as difficultly seeing or taking medications that make you dizzy. Prevention strategies, including exercise and assistive devices, help you lead a healthier life overall.
For older adults, falls can be dangerous: 1 in 5 falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.
Many people assume that falls are a common or inevitable part of aging. But in many cases, you can prevent falls from happening. Healthcare providers use a fall risk assessment to identify your risk factors for falling and make helpful recommendations.
Some people try to reduce their fall risk by limiting their activity or striving to be more careful. But these well-intentioned behaviors aren’t enough.
A fall risk assessment is important because knowing which factors increase your chances of falling helps you:
All adults 65 years and older should have an initial fall risk screening. Your healthcare provider might ask you whether you:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, your healthcare provider will recommend an additional, more thorough evaluation.
According to practice guidelines from various organizations, you should have a fall risk assessment at least once a year. However, in some cases, your healthcare provider might recommend more frequent screenings.
Many different conditions can increase your risk of falling, such as:
In addition, certain treatments, lifestyle habits and other factors can raise your risk as well:
A fall risk assessment may include several steps.
Your healthcare provider may:
Your provider may also:
Healthcare providers often use these fall risk assessment tools to test your balance, strength and pattern of walking (gait):
After you’ve completed your fall risk assessment, your healthcare provider will let you know whether you have a low or high risk of falling.
Even if you’re low risk, your healthcare provider may still make preventive recommendations.
Your healthcare provider might recommend that you:
Your provider may also recommend working with other healthcare professionals to keep you as healthy as possible, such as:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Falls can be serious for any older adult. A fall risk assessment is the best way to address your risk factors. Reducing your risk of falling and getting hurt helps you lead a healthier, more independent life. Changes may include wearing the right shoes, taking a supplement and working with a physical therapist. If you’re 65 or older, talk to your healthcare provider about having a comprehensive fall risk assessment.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/23/2022.
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