Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Select An Article
Font Size

Preventing Slips and Falls Among Older Adults

Dangers around the home cause thousands of unintentional deaths per year. And falls are the cause of the most common fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Keeping Seniors Safe in Their Own Homes

Does your home seem less accommodating than it used to? Join the club. That tends to happen as we age. Toilets are suddenly too low, cabinets too high, and steps and loose rugs make getting around perilous, especially if you have stiff, arthritic joints. Karen Kassik discovered this in 2002, when she brought her then 66-year-old mother to live in her two-bedroom home in Winter Park, Fla. "I found out very quickly how inadequate this little house was," she recalls. Kassik, 45, used her background...

Read the Keeping Seniors Safe in Their Own Homes article > >

  • In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments, with more than 662,000 of these patients hospitalized.
  • In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.
  • Between 20% and 30% of falls among adults age 65 and older result in hip fractures, head lacerations, and head trauma -- injuries that can make it more difficult to live on their own. 

The CDC says more than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year -- and fewer than half of them discuss falling with their health care provider.  

Even if a fall doesn't result in an injury, it can instill a fear of falling in older adults, limiting their mobility and weakening their muscles. That, in turn, can make falling an even higher risk.

 

  
 

Safety Measures to Prevent Falling

There are numerous safety measures you can take to prevent slips and falls in your home:

  • Stairways should have handrails on both sides.
  • Attach safety treads to steps.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as throw rugs, furniture, and clutter from walkways.
  • Use self-adhesive, non-skid mats or safety treads in bathtubs, showers, and pools.
  • Use non-skid rugs on bathroom floors.
  • Use non-skid pads under rugs on bare floors.
  • Install grab bars on both sides of toilets and bathtubs, especially on those used by seniors.

Researchers say the risks of seniors falling are greater if they have lower body weakness, problems with walking and balance, or are taking four or more medications. To reduce their risk, elderly people should get regular exercise to increase their lower body strength and improve balance. And their doctor or pharmacist should review and revise, if necessary, their medications to reduce side effects and interactions.
 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 16, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article