How can I prevent falls?

Dr. David M. Slovik, MD

Falls can result from a host of factors, some health-related and some environmental, such as failing vision or hearing; impaired muscle strength, coordination and reflexes; dizziness (sometimes caused by medications); bad lighting; wet floors; and obstacles in pathways.
Here are some ways to protect yourself against dangerous falls:

  • Clear your floors of clutter and any items that could trip you up, including loose wires, cords and throw rugs.
  • Make sure that stairways, entrances and walkways are well lit, and install night lights in your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes for better traction. Avoid walking around in socks.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Keep items that you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets. Also, consider using reaching and grasping tools to get at difficult-to-reach items.
  • Add grab bars to your tub, and use nonskid mats on bathroom floors.
  • Be careful when pets are nearby. Tripping over a pet, most often a dog or cat, is a common cause of falls.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether any medications you are taking can cause dizziness or impair balance.
  • Perform exercises such as tai chi or yoga that can improve your balance, coordination and muscle strength.
  • Have your eyes checked regularly.
Dr. Susie Whitworth, PhD
Nursing Specialist

Falls cause the greatest injury to people over the age of 70. Falls can be prevented by:

  1. being aware of the possible side effects of medications, such as dizziness
  2. limit alcohol intake
  3. use a cane or walker for support
  4. wear rubber-soled shoes
  5. incorporate weight bearing exercises into the daily routine
  6. remove area rugs and electrical cords that could contribute to falls

Seniors can help prevent falls by doing the following things:

  • Participate in regular physical activity. Exercise makes you stronger, increases flexibility and improves balance and coordination.
  • Remove hazards in your home. Make sure your path is clear and remove items that may cause you to trip, such as rugs, cords and wires, books and shoes. Install handrails and keep stairs clear of clutter and install handrails.
  • Review your medications regularly. Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medications you take, including over-the-counter medicines. Make sure the side effects or interactions with other medications are not increasing your chance of falling. Many medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked once a year. Poor vision and not being able to hear can increase your chance of falling.
  • Talk to your family members and enlist their help. Family support is important for a senior's safety. 

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.