Fall Prevention: Strategies To Help Keep You From Falling Down

Fall Prevention: Strategies To Help Keep You From Falling Down

Fall Prevention: Strategies To Help Keep You From Falling Down

Falling is one of the greatest fears of older adults because these accidents can lead to fractures, broken bones, and even death. Unfortunately, falls are common among adults aged 65 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 4 older adults report a fall each year.

One reason why older adults are more likely to fall is due to age. Health experts suspect sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength, is a contributing risk factor for falls.

Sarcopenia is associated with seniors because it usually develops during the aging process, although the condition can also affect middle-aged people. Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition can increase the risk of developing sarcopenia.

Besides sarcopenia, other reasons that increase fall risks among older adults include:

  • Certain health conditions that make it hard to walk or affect their balance, including diabetes or heart disease
  • Conditions, such as incontinence, that cause rushed movement to the bathroom
  • Vision problems like cataracts or glaucoma
  • Changes in weight
  • Medications that cause drowsiness or relaxation
  • Lack of sleep

The fear of falling can result in seniors avoiding activities such as walking, shopping, or participating in social events.

The good news is that falls are preventable, and making lifestyle changes and safer homes can go a long way in lowering the risks of falling.

If you are concerned about falling, it turns out there are several steps you can take to prevent falls, such as:

1. Maintaining good bone health.

You can keep your bones strong by taking calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that is important for strong bones and teeth. You can get vitamin D from fatty fish, fish liver oils, fortified milk and milk products, and fortified cereals. Having healthy bones won’t necessarily prevent a fall, but if you do fall, healthy bones may keep you from breaking a hip or suffering other serious injuries.

2. Staying physically active.

Regular physical activity helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Physical activity can involve anything from gardening to walking to climbing stairs. For substantial health benefits, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults try to get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity.

3. Trying balance and strength training exercises.

Resistance exercises, which include lifting weights or using resistance bands, help to build strength. Lower-body strength exercises, such as standing on one foot or the heel-to-toe walk, help with balance. Also, Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi can all improve balance and muscle strength.

4. Get your eyes and feet checked every year.

Poor vision due to conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts can increase your chances of falling. Problems with your feet can also throw you off balance. This is why it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider if you have problems with your vision or feet. Also, to fully support your feet, wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes.

5. Avoid or limit alcohol.

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to balance problems and potential falls.

Also, talk with your doctor about medications that make you dizzy or sleepy. These types of medication can cause you to fall.

Fall-proof Your Home Room by Room

The majority of falls occur in the home, and the most common locations are the bedroom, bathroom, and stairs, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is why making changes to your home is very important in preventing falls.

The NIH offers the following tips on how to make each room in your home safer:

Floors, stairways, and hallways

  • Install and secure handrails on both sides of any stairs. Hold the handrails when you go up and down the stairs, even when you are carrying something.
  • Make sure there are light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and on each end of a long hall.
  • Make sure that all carpets are fixed firmly on the floor so they won’t slip.
  • Do not use throw rugs or small area rugs. If you do not want to remove loose rugs, secure them with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.
  • Do not walk on slippery, newly-washed floors.
  • Avoid walking on stairs or floors in socks, flip-flops, or in shoes and slippers with smooth soles.


  • Place night lights, a lamp, or light switches close to your bed. Keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power goes out and you need to get up.
  • Place a landline or well-charged phone near your bed.

Living Area

  • Free up space in your living area by removing boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, phone cords, and other matter from high-traffic areas.
  • Make sure paths are clear to light switches that are not near room entrances. Consider trading traditional light switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.


  • Keep frequently used pots, pans, and kitchen utensils in a place where they are easy to reach.
  • Clean up spilled liquids, grease, or food immediately.
  • Store dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Prepare food while seated to prevent fatigue or loss of balance.

What To Do If You Fall

Falls are traumatic and can be very upsetting. However, if you do fall, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends staying as calm as possible and then taking the following steps:

  • Remain still on the floor or the ground for a few moments. Take several deep breaths to try to relax. This will help you get over the shock of falling.
  • Find out if you are hurt. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.
  • Crawl to a nearby sturdy chair. If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side. Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust. Slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair.
  • Slowly sit down in the chair. Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it’s flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor. From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.
  • Get help. If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you are alone, try to get into a comfortable position and take deep breaths before focusing on trying to call 911 or contact someone for help. Then, calmly wait for help to arrive.

Some seniors use a medical alert system, in the form of a bracelet or pendant that has a button to push to call for help. Some smartwatches also have this feature. Also, keep a well-charged cordless or mobile phone with you.

If you are worried about falling, talk to your doctor or nurse about your fears. The NIA advises you to always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last check-up, even if you did not feel pain when you fell.

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