You can make small changes to help prevent falls. More than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. Falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around, and other problems — especially if you’re age 65 or older.
A fracture (broken bone) can cause pain and disability. It can also make it hard to do everyday activities without help, like cooking or taking a shower. Broken hips may lead to serious health problems — and even death.
The good news is there are lots of things you can do to lower your risk of falling. Take these steps:
Talk with your doctor about falls and how to prevent them
Do exercises to improve your balance and strength
Review all medicines with your doctor or pharmacist — some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall
Get your vision checked by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years — and be sure to update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes
Make your home safer — for example, add grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower and put railings on both sides of stairs
Am I at Risk?
Am I at risk of falling?
As people age, poor balance and weak muscles can lead to falls and fractures. Most falls happen when older adults are doing everyday activities like walking.
Some older adults also have vision problems or medical conditions that can make a fall more likely. For example, diabetes can reduce feeling in your feet and a stroke can affect your balance. These conditions can make you more likely to fall.
You may be more likely to fall if you:
Have fallen in the past year
Have a health condition that makes it hard to walk or affects your balance, like diabetes or heart disease
Have trouble walking, getting up from a chair, or stepping up onto a curb
Take many different medicines, especially medicines to help you relax or sleep
Have trouble seeing or have a vision problem like cataracts or glaucoma
Your vision changes as you get older. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
Get your eyes tested every 1 to 2 years to make sure you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength. Be sure to update your glasses or contacts if your prescription has changed. Read more about keeping your vision healthy.
Get a bone density test.
If you’re a woman age 65 or older, get a bone density test to measure how strong your bones are. If you’re a woman age 64 or younger and you have gone through menopause, ask your doctor if you need a bone density test. Learn more about bone density tests.
If you have weak bones (osteoporosis), ask your doctor or nurse what steps you can take to stop bone loss and lower your risk of fractures.
Help prevent falls at home.
About half of all falls happen inside the home. Take these steps to make your home safer:
Have railings put on both sides of all stairs inside and outside of your home
Have grab bars put inside and outside your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet
Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower
Remove small rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping
Use bright lights throughout your home, especially on the stairs
Keep stairs and places where you walk clear of clutter — pick up or move things you can trip over, like cords, papers, shoes, or books
Keep kitchen items you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets or shelves
This information on preventing falls was adapted from materials from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases, the National Institute on Aging, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reviewed by: Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 2019 Content last updated October 7, 2021
Wes Craven is the president and publisher of Pro-Ad Media, a niche magazine company based out of Lakeland, Florida. A Lakeland native, Wes lives with his wife, Liz, where they raised two daughters. Wes enjoys the outdoors, tennis and pretty much anything where competition is involved. After graduating from Florida State University, Wes worked for a large retailer where he soon realized he would have no family time. Making a career change fell on the heels of his ailing grandmother who was stricken with the end stages of Alzheimer's. From this terrible disease, Wes created the ElderCare Guide to help families with care issues for aging loved ones.