Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Preventing Falls in Older Adults - Topic Overview

Learn ways to keep your balance

  • Learn to do a few exercises for strength and balance. Practicing these each day can help you stay active and independent.
  • 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 the medicines that you take. 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 falls(What is a PDF document?).

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

  • When you go outdoors, keep your hands free by using a shoulder bag, a fanny pack, or a backpack.
  • If you wear bifocal or trifocal glasses, you may have problems as you step off curbs or climb stairs. See about getting glasses with a single prescription that you can wear when you walk.
  • Find out about 24-hour drugstores and grocery stores near you that can take orders over the telephone and make deliveries to your home. Use these services, especially when the weather is bad.
  • 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.
1|2
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 26, 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.
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