Falling poses a serious threat to older people. Not only can a falling incident cause major damage to one’s body, but it can also prevent seniors from taking care of themselves in their older age. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the primary cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors. One in four Americans over the age of 65 experiences a falling incident annually, and three million seniors visit an Emergency Room every year for fall injuries. Many people are simply unsure of what to do if an elderly person falls.

To preserve independence, preventing yourself — or a loved one — from falling can help you maintain your lifestyle and avoid caretaking in the future. Learn what precautions should be put in place to prevent falls from happening to you.

What Can Cause Seniors to Fall?

Knowing how serious a fall can be to a senior, prevention should be at the top of your priority list. To maintain your health and wellness, you need to understand what can cause a spill to happen. From lost mobility and medical issues to hazards in the home, a fall can result from one or a combination of factors. Here are some of the top reasons a senior may experience a fall.

Loss of Muscle Mass

Through the natural aging process, adults lose muscle mass and strength over time. This gradual loss of strength and function can affect your balance and stability, increasing your risk of falling. Losing a small percentage of muscle mass is normal as you age, but you can prevent major loss with exercise, movement, and even strength training. Maintain your muscles, and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding falls due to instability.

Medical Conditions

In addition to losing muscle mass, medical conditions can also lead to unexpected — and extremely serious — falls. Mild medical issues, like low blood pressure, could cause a fall if you stand up too fast. More serious and chronic issues — like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease — can lead to a fall if medications are not taken as prescribed. Finally, older folks experiencing cognitive impairments, like dementia, are also at a higher risk for falls.

  • There are a few ways seniors can avoid spills due to medical conditions.
  • Be diligent about taking medication.
  • Remain active to maintain balance, strength, and coordination.
  • Follow dietary recommendations from your doctor.
  • Attend your regular medical check-ups.
  • Notify your doctor if your medication negatively affects you in any way.


Another leading cause of falls among seniors is their medication(s). Some medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion that can increase the risk of falls. Make sure to talk to your doctor if your medication causes side effects that could lead to a fall. Your doctor can adjust your dosage or put you on another medication altogether.

Safety Hazards

There are several safety hazards that could cause a senior to fall and hurt themselves. Whether at home, visiting the doctor’s office, stopping by a loved one’s house, or simply getting groceries, be aware of the following hazards and take it slow to prevent a fall.

  • Loose rugs or carpeting. Loose rugs and carpets can create a tripping hazard for seniors, especially those who use walkers or canes. install anti-slip pads or remove them altogether to prevent falls in your home.
  • Clutter. Obstacles, like cords, shoes, and low furniture, can create tripping hazards for older folks. Make sure walkways and living areas are obstacle-free.
  • Poor lighting. Dim lighting can make it difficult to see tripping hazards. Use bright bulbs or install motion-activated lights to help yourself see better in poorly lit spaces.
  • Slippery floors. Bathrooms, kitchens, tile floors… rooms with smooth surfaces can make for slippery floors and can be hazardous for seniors. Make sure to wear slip-resistant shoes and hold onto railings when walking on potentially wet floors.
  • Hazardous weather conditions. Unsafe weather conditions, like snow, rain, and hail, can create wet, perilous surfaces outdoors. Avoid going outside during and soon after bad weather, or ask for assistance if you need to be outdoors during slick weather conditions. Better safe than sorry!

How to Prevent Falls for Seniors: 5 Tips

Now that you’re aware of the safety hazards that could cause a fall, here are preventative measures to incorporate into your daily routine.

1.Use an Assistive Device

If you’re experiencing stability issues, consider using an assistive device. A cane or walker can provide extra balance and stability. And, whenever possible, use grab bars to reduce the risk of falling. Plus, not only does an assistive device provide you with more stability, but it can also increase your mobility, giving you more independence to walk longer distances and participate in activities that you may otherwise avoid due to fear of falling. Talk with your doctor to determine what kind of assistive device would work best for you. They’ll be able to provide recommendations and ensure your device is properly sized for your use.

2. Fall-Proof Your Surroundings

Have you ever heard of the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Taking preventative steps now to fortify your surroundings can prevent a fall in the future. Here are a few ways you can fall-proof your surroundings:

  • Secure loose rugs.
  • Reduce clutter.
  • Tuck away electrical cords.
  • Install grab bars.
  • Put everyday items at an accessible height (to reduce step stool usage).
  • Create wide walkways between furniture.
  • Add lighting.

3. Stay Physically (and Mentally) Active

Regular exercise — and mindfulness — can make all the difference for seniors who are looking to retain mobility and balance. Incorporate fall prevention exercises, like walking, swimming, or yoga, into your daily routine to improve/maintain muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.

4. Evaluate Your Eyesight

Poor eyesight can affect balance and coordination, and increase your risk of falling. Seniors are especially susceptible to age-related eye conditions, like macular degeneration, cataracts, and eye diseases like glaucoma. Make sure to have your eyes checked regularly and update prescriptions as needed.

5. Keep Your Hands Free

One of the best ways to prevent falls for seniors is to hold onto something sturdy as you walk. However, to have a strong hold on railings or your assistive device, you need to keep your hands free. Avoid carrying objects in your hands while walking — use a bag to carry your things instead. This keeps your hands free and keeps your weight balanced as you move about.

What to Do if You Fall

Despite the best prevention efforts, accidents can still happen, and it can be quite scary when an elderly person falls. Knowing what to do in the event of a fall can minimize the risk of injury and, in some cases, even save a life. Here’s what you should do if you or a loved one experiences a fall.

  • Take a breath. You may need a few seconds to catch your breath if the fall knocks the wind out of you. Give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts, catch your breath, and assess next steps. Pausing for a beat or two before getting up can help you prevent further injury.
  • Evaluate your injuries and take action. Take note of any pain or discomfort you feel right after the fall and decide if you can stand up again safely.
  • Get up — slowly. When you’re ready to stand, find a stable object, like a chair or wall, to support you as you rise.
  • Assess your mobility. After getting up, see if you’re able to walk without severe pain. If moving hurts, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
  • Get help. If you’re unable to get up on your own or if you experience severe pain after standing up, you need to get help. Use your medical alert device, call out for a caregiver or neighbor, or ask people around you to assist you.

A final note: make it a habit to keep an accessible phone with you at all times so you can contact others in the event of an emergency, like a fall. Keeping a mobile device or medical alert device on you at all times can save your life.

Fall Prevention in Older Adults: Key Takeaways

Falls can have mild to very serious consequences for seniors. Taking time to mitigate the risk of falling can help you prolong your independence and safeguard your physical health. From maintaining muscle mass and staying on top of medical conditions to fixing the safety hazards in your home, being aware of fall risks can help prevent a spill. And, in the unfortunate event of a fall, knowing what to do to stay safe protects you from further injury. Stay on top of more senior safety tips with Retirement Genius so you can enjoy your golden years to the fullest!