Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size
A
A
A

Preventing Falls

Every year, thousands of older adults fall and hurt themselves. Falls are one of the main causes of injury and disability in people age 65 and older. People who have had a stroke or have multiple sclerosis or osteoporosis are also at risk. These tips can help you avoid falls.

Take care of yourself

  • If you live alone, think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and can't get up. Or carry a cordless or cell phone with you from room to room. Then you can quickly call for help if you need it.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked each year or anytime you notice a change. If you have trouble seeing and hearing, you might not be able to avoid objects that make you lose your balance.
  • If you are very weak or dizzy, have someone help you get out of bed, walk, and bathe.
  • Call your doctor if you have calluses or corns on your feet that need to be removed. If you wear loose-fitting shoes because of calluses or corns, you can lose your balance and fall.
  • Call your doctor if you are dizzy and lose your balance. You may have a health problem that needs treatment, such as an inner ear problem.

Learn ways to keep your balance

  • Exercise often to improve your strength, muscle tone, and sense of balance. Walking is a great way to start. Swimming can be a good choice if you can't walk well. For simple exercises you can try at home, see Quick Tips: Improving Your Balance.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with nonskid soles. Repair or replace worn heels and soles.
  • If you use a walker or cane, make sure it is fitted to you. Put rubber tips on it.
  • If you have pets, keep them in one place at night. Train your pets not to jump or get underfoot. Think about buying a collar with a bell for your pet so you will know when your pet is nearby.

Learn about your medicines

  • Know the side effects of medicines you are taking. Ask your doctor if the medicines you take can affect your balance. For instance, sleeping pills and some medicines for anxiety can affect your balance.
  • If you take two or more medicines, talk to your doctor about how they work together. Sometimes combinations of medicines can cause dizziness or sleepiness. Either of these can lead to a fall.

Make your home safer

  • Remove or fix things you could trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, or loose carpet.
  • Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
  • Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
  • Keep your house well lit. Use night-lights (or keep the overhead light on at night) in hallways and bathrooms.
  • Put sturdy handrails on stairways. Make sure you have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Store things on lower shelves so you don't have to climb or reach high.
  • Keep a phone and a flashlight by your bed. Check the flashlight batteries often to make sure they still work.

For a complete list of hazards to look for and fix at home, see this checklist for preventing fallsform.gif(What is a PDF document?).

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Starting Your Role As Caregiver

Where to Begin? It's time to start thinking of yourself as a caregiver when the following types of events occur: A major health problem, or a collection of smaller ones, is starting to cramp your mother's style. Financial problems (overdrawn checks, unpaid bills, huge credit balances) start cropping up. Grandpa doesn't get out as much as he used to and seems less interested in what's going on around him. Home maintenance is slipping: things that break around your parent's house...

Read the Starting Your Role As Caregiver article > >

Stay safe while bathing

  • Install grab handles and nonskid mats in the tub and shower.
  • Use a shower chair or bath bench. You can also try using a hand-held shower head.
  • Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first. Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.

Prevent outdoor falls

  • If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, have a family member or friend sprinkle salt or sand on slippery steps and sidewalks.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Hone, MD, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Last Revised September 1, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 01, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Senior man doing press ups in gym
Slideshow
reflection of couple kissing
Quiz
 
man reviewing building plans
Quiz
Women working out and walking with weights
Community
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Youth listening to headphones
Slideshow
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article