How alcohol affects your fall risk

Published on
May 14, 2024
2 glasses of white wine on a wooden table. A bottle of white wine can be seen in the background

How alcohol affects your fall risk

It’s a common tradition to sip on some wine or egg nog over the holiday season. It’s no secret that ‘one-too-many’ can certainly cause some impairments in judgement and balance, but we want to ensure that ‘a few’ doesn’t turn into a fall.

The first step of protecting yourself against alcohol-related falls is to be aware of your alcohol consumption, balance it with water, ensure you’re eating, and remember to drink in moderation. 

While many treat the idea of ‘drunkenness’ with humour or fun, the reality is that many people, particularly those over 65, can feel the effects of alcohol more strongly without increasing the amount they drink. 

What does this mean? Essentially the older you get, the more alcohol can effect your body, and conversely, can significantly heighten your fall risk.

Let’s talk about how alcohol affects the body

  • Alcohol makes you sleepy by depressing the central nervous system. This drowsiness is commonly also associated with feeling relaxed. But it’s important to remember that tiredness will impair concentration, making a trip or fall more likely.
  • Being hungover also has the power to increase anxiety levels. It does this by creating a drop in blood sugar as the alcohol is processed out of your system. Anxiety and stress can impair judgement and concentration.
  • A few drinks also have the power to impair the way the brain works - particularly the areas of the brain responsible for memory, speech, judgement, and most notably, balance. It goes without saying that impaired balance is a significant fall risk.
A frosty jug of lime and mint water, with a frosty glass of the same in water in the foreground

What to do if you do have an alcohol-related fall

One of the most common concerns for people addressing falls is whether or not help will arrive on time, particularly if they’re unable to get up on their own.

So, if the unexpected does happen, here’s what we recommend:

  • Stay calm:
    Falling can be quite distressing, but it's important that you take a few deep breaths and try to avoid panic.
  • Assess for injury:
    Mentally scan your body for pain points, and if you can, look yourself over for bruises and/or abrasions.
  • Reduce movement:
    If you're seriously injured, or you believe you've broken a bone, it's important that you don't try to move.  
  • Don't rush:
    It may be tempting to try and get back up as quick as you can. If you wish to try getting up yourself, it is important that you take things slowly.
  • Seek medical attention:
    After a fall, even if you feel fine, it's important to speak to your doctor, just to be safe.

Planning for a fall now can also save a life.

HomeGuardian will automatically contact up to 3 emergency contacts within 2 seconds of incident detection to ensure that if you do experience a fall, you’ll have access to the post-fall care that you deserve.

For more information, give our friendly Care team a call on 1300 248 324.

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