Posted in Health, news, seniors

How to Avoid Falls in Older Adults

One of the leading causes of hospitalization in the elderly is a fall at home.  And in those 65 and older, falls contribute to the leading cause of fatal injury in that age group.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 25% of seniors fall each year.  On their website they cite the following:

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

So how can we prevent falls in older individuals?


Improve the lighting in the home

Many times light bulbs extinguish and are slow to get replaced.  Many lighting fixtures in the house emanate from the ceiling, hence the average person needs to wait for a family member, neighbor or handyman to come over and assist in changing the lightbulb. This results in a room remaining darker than it’s supposed to be.

light bulb


Moreover the location of lighting may not be ideally placed, augmenting shadows that could intervene with one’s view causing them to miss their step.


Avoid having untrained 4-legged pets in the home


cat legs


Dogs love to follow their owners everywhere they go in a hot second.  And cats love to rub up against one’s ankles and calves to remind you to feed them.  No matter what age, our fluffy critters can cause us to trip.  Birds or goldfish may be a safer option to avoid falls.

Clean up the clutter

Boxes, piles of magazines, balls and toys the grandchildren leave lying around can all impede one’s stride.  The less often one needs to pivot and walk around something, the less chance they have of falling.




Use non-slip mats on flooring surfaces

Many floors become slippery when wet and non-slip mats, flooring can help.



One still needs to be careful avoiding tripping on the slip guard but these can be carefully installed.

Avoid mats and rugs that lift up and can catch on a foot.

Non-slip socks can also help our seniors when they walk around the home.


Install handrails and guards around the home

Walls and furniture do not provide adequate support for those who need assistance standing up and walking.  Moreover, many of these home modifications are tax-deductible which will help offset the price.


Improve their sight and hearing

Cataracts and hearing loss can plague seniors, making them more vulnerable to falls.


Preventing falls is essential for our seniors and if more advice is needed please visit here.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician