Fall Prevention

1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization for older adults in Washington State. Falls are costly—in dollars and in quality of life. However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. Many falls for adults aged 65 and older are caused by gradual health changes due to aging. Conditions such as chronic illnesses, daily medication use, and changes in muscle strength, balance, vision, and walking ability cause falls.  By learning to manage these health factors, you can learn to stay active and independent for life.

Falls can be deadly. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries.
Each year, at least 25,000 older adults die as a result of falls. And the rate of fall-related
deaths among older adults in the United States have been rising steadily over
the past decade.

Falls are preventable. People are living longer and falls will increase unless we
make a serious commitment to providing effective fall prevention programs.
Fortunately, the opportunity to help reduce falls among older adults has
never been better, because research has demonstrated that falls can be prevented. 

The four most important things you can do to prevent falls are:

Make your home safer:
– Move furniture so your path is clear.

– Remove throw rugs or tape them down with double-sided tape.
– Keep things picked up off the floors and stairways.
– Keep extension cords, telephone cords, and wires coiled and secured to the wall.
– Make sure you have good lighting on stairways and in halls.
– Keep things you use often on lower shelves.
– Put a non-slip rubber mat in the tub or shower.
– Install grab bars near toilets and in tubs and showers.
– Keep the path from your bed to your bathroom well-lit.

Have your medications reviewed:
The average senior is taking seven medications daily.  Have your health care professional or pharmacist review your medications (including vitamins and herbal supplements).

– Taking more medications increases the risk of drug or food interactions.
– You may be taking drugs with similar side effects. Used alone most drugs do not cause harm but used together you might have a toxic reaction.
– Over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins and herbal supplements, may cause side effects when used with prescription drugs or some foods.

Have your vision checked:
Vision changes can occur slowly over time.  You may not be aware that your vision has changed.  Get your vision tested at least once a year.

Begin an exercise program:
As we get older, doing regular strength, balance, and flexibility exercises protects our health and independence and helps prevent falls.  Regular exercise is a great way to relieve stress, sleep better, get more energy, and grow stronger. Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

***Do you know that Housing Resources Bainbridge has a home modification program to help qualified seniors stay in their homes? To learn about their no-cost grab bar + installation program and other modifications you may be qualified for, please visit the HRB website here

Learn more about fall prevention:

Stay Independent brochure

Check for Safety brochure

What you can do to Prevent Falls brochure

National Council on Aging's Fall Prevention Program