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June 2021

Take Steps to Avoid Falls

When you see people tumble on TV, it can be funny. But in reality, falling is no laughing matter. For older adults, especially, accidental falls can lead to serious injury, disability, and even death.

Who’s at risk?

Each year, millions of older adults are treated in the emergency room for falls and more than 39,000 people die as the result of accidental falls.

While there is no question that advancing age is a big risk factor for falls, researchers have found that specific conditions put some at even greater risk. They include the following:

  • Conditions that can affect balance (including diabetes; heart disease; and problems with the thyroid, nerves, or blood vessels)

  • Walking and balance difficulties

  • Muscle weakness in the legs and feet

  • Foot pain or wearing unsafe footwear

  • Use of certain medicines (including antidepressants, sedatives, and tranquilizers)

  • Vision problems

Prevention steps

You should have an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about falls. Ask about your risk factors and any steps you should take. Also, inform your provider if you have fallen since your last checkup. They may want to review your medicines, check your eyesight, or check for other conditions.

If you’re at risk of falling, your healthcare provider will likely recommend prevention measures such as getting regular physical activity and ridding your home of hazards. Here are some other things you can do to avoid a fall:

  • Work with your provider to find the right exercise program for you. Exercises that improve balance and leg strength, such as tai chi, are very helpful.

  • Have your vision checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.

  • Ask your provider or pharmacist to review all your medicines, which may be causing dizziness or drowsiness.

  • Make your home safer. For example, clear the floor of clutter, improve the lighting around stairs and other hazardous spots, and install grab bars in the bathroom.

  • Always wear supportive shoes.




Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2021
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.