Obesity may put seniors at higher risk of falling

Lisa Wurth

January 6, 2012

Is your relative unable to taste food like he or she used to?Falls can happen to anyone at any time. Many might assume that thin or frail older individuals may be at a higher risk, though seniors who are overweight or obese have their own risks as well, Reuters reports.

A new study finds that obese senior citizens may have a more difficult time keeping their balance, which can lead to more falls. They are also found to recover more slowly from their injuries.

Researchers from Syracuse University looked at 9,621 falls of people aged 65 and older between 1998 and 2006, and of that number, more than 3,100 people suffered serious injures. From this data, scientists found that 23 percent of patients were obese. The research showed that between 12 and 50 percent of obese seniors are more likely to suffer falls over two years compared to peers of normal weight. 

The report also found seniors who are mildly obese were 17 percent more likely to report a disability after falling in comparison to people of normal weight who also suffered a fall.

"It's just harder for obese people to recover from injury," Christine L. Himes, lead author, told the publication. "They're going to be in poorer physical shape to begin with."

Falling among seniors continues to become more serious. Those living alone may want to install a medical alert system into their homes in case of an emergency. This way, if a fall does occur, they'll be able to call for help.