Falls & Prevention

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View The Good News About Fall Prevention

Falls are a concern and potential major health problem for older adults and some younger adults dealing with chronic conditions.

Many people still believe that falls are a normal part of aging and can’t be prevented. The reality is there are many things you can do to help prevent yourself from falling.

There are common risk factors that are known to contribute to falls. The first steps in protecting yourself from a fall are to:

  • Understand what the common risk factors are.
  • Assess which of them may be an issue for you.
  • Take action to counteract potential problem areas.

Many of the things that help you stay healthy and independent can be easy and even fun! The key is taking an active role in making some changes to your life! The more YOU do today– the more you CAN continue to do tomorrow!

The following information and resources are a great first step to help you get started.

Common Risk Factors that Lead to Falls

  • Vision and hearing problems.
  • Certain medications used to treat hypertension, heart disease, allergy, insomnia, stomach acidity, and depression.
  • Taking multiple medications.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Difficulty walking, foot problems, or issues with balance, coordination, or muscle weakness.
  • Certain diseases or conditions such as joint disease, heart disease, stroke, or Parkinsons.
  • Confusion from dementia, delirium, or depression.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Fall hazards in the home.

Use the Washington State’s Department of Health’s worksheet My Fall-Free Plan to help you learn more about common risks and possible next steps for you to take to prevent falls.

Fear of Falling

It is important to be cautious and aware of risk factors for falls. Problems can arise when caution leads to fear. Fear of falling causes many older adults to limit their activities – thereby becoming inactive and often more isolated. This is especially true if the person has fallen before.

A lack of physical activity creates an even greater risk of falling. Being inactive can lead to poor leg strength, balance difficulties, and problems walking. Even a little activity strengthens bones and muscles, improves steadiness when walking, and helps prevent fractures.

If you avoid staying active because you're afraid of falling, talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend a carefully monitored exercise program that’s right for you or refer you to a physical therapist who can help design a safe exercise program.

Additional Resources

Steps to Fall Prevention

  • Keep physically active. Regular, daily exercise helps to improve your balance, increase your flexibility, and build your strength.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked regularly by a professional.
  • Wear glasses and use your hearing aids (if needed).
  • Use medication wisely. Have your prescriptions checked by your pharmacist or doctor periodically.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Reduce fall hazards in your home. Learn more.
  • Find out if there are any gadgets or assistive devices that can help you stay independent and how to use them. Learn more.
  • Wear the right type of shoes. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. Learn more about what shoes to wear.
  • Slow down, watch where you’re going, and use handrails.
  • Get up slowly after eating, lying down or resting. Low blood pressure at these times may cause dizziness.

What To Do If You Do Fall

If you do fall, try to land on your buttocks to prevent more serious injuries. Try not to land on a hip. 

Stay calm. Take a few deep breaths and see if you have been hurt at all. Learn more about how to safely get up from a fall or help to help someone else get up from a fall.

If you are concerned that you may not have the ability to get yourself up from a fall, talk with your doctor. Your doctors can talk with you about what types of exercise would help to improve your balance, increase your flexibility, and build your strength.