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How to Prevent Falls in Older Adults

Nurse helping older man walk with crutches

Falls are one of the main causes of injury in people over age 65 and are the #1 cause of injury leading to an emergency room visit. After a fall older adults may take longer to get better than younger people. Fear of falling is a normal concern.

There are many reasons people fall. Some reasons and risk factors include health conditions like arthritis, depression, poor balance, muscle weakness, unsteady walking, memory problems, poor vision and hearing, previous falls, some medicines and hazards in the environment and your home. The Department of Social Work Programs at HSS provides the following fall prevention tips for older adults:

1. Talk with your doctor about your health concerns. Your doctor can help you understand the reasons for falling, why you may fall and what you can do to prevent falls.

2. Stay active and connected. Take a walk, join a club, start an exercise program. Physical activity can reduce the risk of falls by creating a positive mood and helping to maintain good balance, flexibility, strength and endurance. A referral to a physical therapist if indicated can be helpful.

3. Be aware of your surroundings. Use canes, walkers and other supportive devices correctly.

4. Make your home fall-proof and do a self check. Add nightlights to halls, bedroom and bathrooms. Add safety devices to your home like handrails and bathroom grab bars. Make sure shoe laces are tied, clothing is the right length and clothes are tucked in.

5. Talk about your concerns and get support from the health care team. Social workers can help you to explore your feelings about falling and work collaboratively with the health care team to come up with a safety plan that meets your all of your needs.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.