Older Adult Fall Prevention

January 01, 2017

Adult Fall Prevention

Falling down is not just part of getting older. It is serious problem and one that impacts 33% of adults, age 65 and older. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries, and annually lead to more than 500,000 hospitalizations a year. In 2010 alone, the estimated direct medical costs were $30 Billion.

The risk of falling does increase with age, but age is just one risk factor. Usually it takes two or more risk factors together to cause a fall such as, new medications, worsening vision and poor lighting. Understanding these risk factors is one of the first steps to prevention.

Other risk factors to include:

  • Weakened muscles
  • Poor balance
  • Use of medication
  • Use of alcohol or other substances
  • Vision changes
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Poorly designed public spaces
  • Cluttered environment
  • Slippery conditions or other environmental factors
  • Wearing old, worn out or ill-fitting shoes

Many falls can be prevented by making small changes in your behavior and understanding where and when you are at increased risk.

  • Exercise can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) and strengthen muscles that help your balance. A list of local group classes can be found through the Older Adult Falls Coalition.
  • Getting an annual physical examination including an eye test.
  • Having any medical device properly fitted such as, a cane or a walker.
  • Choosing clothes that don’t get caught under your shoes.
  • Wearing flat, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Review your medication, especially how the medications react with each other, with a doctor
    or pharmacist to make sure they will not impact your balance.
  • Taking medications as prescribed -with food, and without substances such as alcohol.
  • Creating clear pathways in your home by:
    -  Moving cords to the wall
    -  Cleaning up clutter
    -  Having grab bars by toilets and showers
    -  Adding lights to dim areas and replacing loose carpets and rugs
  • Seeking medical care or alerting your physician if you have noticed balance issues or had a minor fall.

Ultimately, falls happen to just about anyone, but a little bit of preparation and knowledge can save you or a loved one from serious injury, and even death.

Download Older Adult Fall Prevention PDF

© 2012 Denver Health

Categories: Geriatrics, Public Health