Review of the Literature on Falls Among the Elderly


  • Elaine Rawsky

    Corresponding author
    1. Elaine Rawsky, RN-CS, MS, Rho, is a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner with Internal Medicine Associates in Howell, Michigan.
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  • The author acknowledges Dorothy Booth, RN, PhD, and Donna Algase, RN, PhD, from the University of Michigan for their editorial contributions.

Ms. Rawsky, McPherson Hospital, 820 Byron Road, Howell, Ml 48843.


Purpose: To review and summarize the literature from nursing, medical, and ancillary fields on falls among the elderly. Major injuries from falls are associated with mortality, especially among the elderly. Researchers indicate that, in many cases, falls can be prevented. A summary of the available literature provides information which can be used to plan interventions.

Organizing Framework: Over 100 publications, 1979–1996 related to falls by elderly were reviewed. Descriptive terms used for searching MEDLINE were falls, elderly, and accidents. Literature from several disciplines was reviewed.

Findings: Fall risk can be predetermined and nursing actions can be taken to reduce the occurrence and severity of falls.

Conclusions: To reduce the deleterious effects of falls in the elderly, knowledge-based practice is essential.