Fall risk increases as you age, but these tips make it less likely you’ll fall and get injured.
Each year, millions of people fall. In fact, it happens to one out of four people over age 65. Although many falls do not cause injuries, falls are the leading cause of injury in adults within this age group. One out of five falls causes serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury. Falling once doubles your chance of falling again.
The good news is that falls can often be prevented. Here are 20 steps you can take to lower your risk of falling.
- Remove tripping hazards. Get rid of items that may cause you to fall, like loose rugs or mats. Keep pathways clear.
- Store items within easy reach. You’re less likely to lose your balance if you don’t have to stretch or bend to retrieve items.
- Light it up. Add more lighting, brighter bulbs, motion sensor lights and nightlights so you are able to see where you are going.
- Clean spills immediately. If you can’t bend down to clean the spill, ask someone else to help so you don’t slip.
- Install grab bars. Have a professional install grab bars in the tub or shower and near the toilet for added protection.
- Use non-slip mats. Place in the shower, in front of the kitchen and bathroom sinks or anywhere that may get wet.
- Hold hand rails. Always grab onto railings when going up or down the stairs.
- Wear the right shoes. Choose sturdy shoes with good traction, especially when it is wet, snowy or icy outside.
- Dress for the weather. Being warm helps muscles stay more flexible. This makes it easier to keep your balance.
- Avoid slippery areas. In the winter, steer clear of ice or snow. Stay on cleared sidewalks and pathways. Avoid wet grassy surfaces.
- Stand up carefully. When you exit a car, place both feet firmly on the ground and hold the door frame to steady yourself.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings:
- Watch where you’re going. Pay attention to what’s in front of you so you can avoid obstacles. Look down with your eyes only.
- Take your time. Being in a hurry increase your chance of falling.
- Move slowly and deliberately. Quick movements may cause you to lose your balance. Taking shorter steps helps keep your body more stable.
Evaluate Your Fall Risk:
- Talk to your doctor. Ask your doctor how any health conditions you have may affect your risk of falling.
- Review medications. Some medications may cause dizziness or drowsiness, increasing your risk of falling.
- Get screened for osteoporosis. This disease weakens bones and makes it more likely they’ll break if you fall.
- Visit the eye doctor. Have your eyes checked every year. Poor vision can increase your chance of falling.
- Use assistive devices. If your doctor recommends using a cane or walker, use it.
- Exercise. Physical activities that improve strength, flexibility and balance lower your fall risk. Tai chi, yoga and water workouts are low-impact activities that may help.
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Date Last Reviewed: July 15, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD