- Intrinsic Factors Ė factors originating with the individual - includes normal aging changes, diseases (chronic and acute), and medication use.
- Extrinsic Factors Ė factors outside the person - includes physical environment, assistive devices and footwear.
Several risk factors for falling have been identified and are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic factors.
Intrinsic factors are related to how well the person can see, how well they can walk or maintain their balance, what kind of muscle strength they exhibit, and how well they can endure physical activity. For these reasons, diseases that affect the cardiovascular, neurological, or musculoskeletal systems can increase an older personís risk of falling. For example, the pain of arthritis can limit an older personís mobility. A diagnosis of cancer and treatment for the disease can weaken an individual. Treatment can also cause anemia, making the older person more fatigued.
Side effects of medications, particularly sedatives, can increase the risk of falling. An older person living in the community is taking an average of 3.7 different medications. As the number of medications increases, there is an increasing number of possible side effects and drug interactions such as hypotension, dizziness, incontinence, fatigue, etc.
Extrinsic factors are related to the personís physical environment, including their home, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, or throw rugs. It also includes any assistive devices such as use of a cane, walker, or wheelchair and inappropriate clothing or footwear. Any of these can increase a personís risk of falling.