One out of five falls in the U.S. causes a serious injury. Each year, three million people over the age of 65 are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. You don’t want to become one of these CDC statistics.
We’ve seen firsthand what measures can help prevent the broken bones, head injuries, or hip injuries that often follow a sudden fall inside the home. We’re sharing the most effective fall prevention tips to help you prevent falls and continue enjoying the activities you love.
Why Is It Important To Prevent Falls?
Before we dive into our fall prevention tips, let’s take a look at why it’s critical to reduce fall risk. Falls can cause serious injuries, especially if you’re taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). You won’t always be able to detect the injuries a fall can induce.
What you may assume is just a minor sprain or a sore leg may be a torn ligament or even a fracture. According to Mayo Clinic, a hip fracture is most often a result of a fall from a standing height. It can reduce your independence and sometimes even shorten your life.
Falls resulting in hip fractures, especially, can lead to other issues. Falls can be associated with increased lengths of stay in hospitals, increased use of healthcare resources, and poorer health outcomes.
Even if they’re not injured, some people who fall become so afraid of falling again that they refrain from any activity — which makes them weaker, increasing their chances of yet another slip. According to the University of California, people who fall once are more likely to fall again. Nearly half of the people who have hip fractures aren’t able to live independently anymore. Hip fracture-induced immobility can lead to complications like:
- Leg or lung blood clots
- Urinary tract infections
- Muscle mass loss
- Increased risk of fall and injury
Often, people slip and fall, hit their heads, and initially experience only a mild headache. But traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not appear for hours or sometimes even days. Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. Serious traumatic brain injury, however, can cause bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other physical brain damage. These injuries can lead to all kinds of unpredictable short- and long-term complications.
Left untreated, these “invisible” injuries can lead to chronic pain and may cause you to compensate by overusing and damaging another part of your body. According to the CDC, these injuries can make it harder for you to get around, engage in everyday activities and live on your own.
If you follow our fall prevention tips and still fall, watch out for these symptoms and call your doctor if you notice any:
- Loss of balance
- Nausea after falling
- Rapidly intensifying or sudden headaches
- Soft tissue damage
Soft Tissue Injury or Other Factures
In addition to head injuries, soft tissue injuries or minor fractures can cause significant functional impairment, pain, and distress. You may not always be able to prevent falls, but make sure you follow the fall prevention tips below and take any necessary precautions to decrease your risk.
What Causes Frequent Falls?
You may not even be aware that some of the conditions or challenges you’re facing increase your risk of falling. We want to help you keep these top-of-mind and follow all our fall prevention tips during your daily routines and celebratory events:
There are many home hazards that you may not recognize as such because you’ve been living with them for so long. Assess your home for these hazards and, as Mayo Clinic recommends:
- Remove all throw rugs
- Tape electrical cords to the wall
- Clear all excess furniture that you can trip on
- Make sure every room and passageway are well lit
- Keep the night lights on in your bedroom, bathroom, and the halls in between
You may have noticed that as we age, our muscles weaken, making daily activities just a bit more challenging every year. But don’t think weakness with aging is inevitable. It’s never too late to start exercising to reduce your risk of falling, according to University of California geriatrics experts. Engaging in even light physical activity can help stave off the effects of aging.
Also, according to the Arthritis Foundation, conditions like arthritis or other kinds of joint pain are linked to an increased risk of falling. One of the most important fall prevention tips is to attend regular checkups so your healthcare provider can diagnose and monitor these conditions.
Dizziness and Balance Issues
Dizziness and vertigo are also linked to falling, according to an article published in The Journal of International Advanced Otology. Understanding why you become dizzy is important if you’re going to effectively apply any fall prevention tips. Dizziness is also a common side effect of high blood pressure medication.
A standard checkup should reveal some potential dysfunctions behind poor balance, including:
- Inner ear issues like labyrinthitis or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Conditions like stroke or Parkinson’s
- Postural hypotension (a blood pressure drop upon getting up from sitting or lying down)
- Heart rate or rhythm irregularities
Blackouts or Loss of Consciousness
Syncope is the medical term for a blackout caused by a sudden lack of blood supply to the brain. According to Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxic Seizures (STARS), 30% of patients over age 65 have experienced syncope but were unaware of losing consciousness — so they tell their healthcare providers that they have fallen.
This is because they briefly lose their memory before losing consciousness (retrograde amnesia). So their fall diagnosis leaves out the cause — often heart rate and rhythm dysfunctions like:
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
If you’ve experienced fainting or blackouts, speak with your healthcare provider — there are many ways to treat these conditions.
Memory Loss and Confusion
The National Institutes of Health report that people with dementia — a condition that creates difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, memory, and awareness — are at a higher risk of falling. Dementia and confusion can affect the ability to judge distances between objects and risky situations.
It’s critical to visit your healthcare provider for regular checkups and report any unusual incidences of memory loss or confusion. One of the fall prevention tips that require the most discipline is to exercise regularly while keeping your mind active and entertained to stave off these dysfunctions.
Vision and Hearing Problems
Vision and hearing issues can make it more difficult to move around safely. A study published by the National Institutes of Health reports that hearing loss was significantly associated with the odds of reported falls.
Research published in the journal Nature reports that visual impairment leads to increased risk of falls. Eye problems can make it difficult to anticipate and spot slip or trip hazards. Changes in depth perception and loss of ability to adjust to lighting changes quickly can also contribute to the risk of falls.
Bifocal or varifocal lens-wearers may find it difficult walking down steps and curbs. Cataracts, glaucoma, and other vision issues linked to stroke or dementia can also increase your risk of falling.
Some pharmaceuticals cause side effects like dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness, drowsiness, and blurred or double vision. They can also make it difficult to think clearly. Better Health While Aging lists 10 medications that can put you at risk. Taking more than four of these pharmaceuticals simultaneously increases your chance of falling:
- Psychotropics and antipsychotics
- Blood-pressure-lowering medications
- Sleeping pills and sedatives
- Anticonvulsants (epilepsy medication)
How you’re affected will depend on your age, weight, gender, ethnicity, and general health, so check in with your healthcare provider for some fall prevention tips if you’re taking pharmaceuticals. Sometimes people continue to take medications that they no longer need — which may contribute or cause them to fall. Check with your doctor to determine whether you can begin weaning yourself off certain medications that are no longer necessary.
Low Vitamin D Levels
According to U.S. Preventative Services, low vitamin D levels contribute to falls and fragile bones. Supplementing might help prevent falls in older adults — especially those who spend a lot of time indoors. Taking a daily supplement of 800–1000 IU will help raise vitamin D to a normal level in most people.
According to Harvard Medical School, poorly fitted footwear, as well as corns, calluses, bunions, ingrown nails, thick nails, and ulcerations can increase your risk of falling. These problems can also interfere with activity — and lowered activity weakens your muscles and balance.
Diabetes can increase your risk of a fall. It sometimes causes numbness in the feet, leaving you unable to fully sense where your foot is on the floor. Taking consistent care of your feet is one of the most important fall prevention tips.
Follow These 13 Fall Prevention Tips
The National Institute on Aging recommends the following proven fall prevention tips that will help you enjoy your independence — and the company of your loved ones — with less stress:
1. Exercise Often
Prepare yourself physically and mentally to follow one of the most critical fall prevention tips: safely enjoy physical activity to improve your gait, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Here a few forms of general exercise you may want to consider:
- Walking in a park with flat, paved walkways
- Water aerobics
- Tai chi
- Dance therapy
- Simple chair exercises
If you’re not confident enough in your strength or balance levels to exercise on your own, work with a physical therapist to develop customized routines that you can enjoy.
2. Check for Medication Side Effects
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider and bring a list of every prescription, supplement, and over-the-counter medication you take and when. It’s possible that side effects or interactions are increasing your risk of falling.
Your healthcare provider may recommend some clinical fall prevention tips and discontinue some medications — like sedatives and some types of antidepressants that cause fatigue or fuzzy thinking — and replacing them with safer solutions.
3. Stand Up Slowly
Here’s one of the easiest fall prevention tips to follow: whenever you stand up from a seated or lying position, rise slowly and deliberately. Moving too quickly can lead to a rapid blood pressure dip that can knock you off your feet.
Make sure to stand all the way up. Maintaining good posture will center your body weight over your feet to keep you balanced. Always keep your shoulders even, your spine straight, and your abdominal muscles pulled in. If the standing process is too cumbersome, considering using a “sit-to-stand” aid.
4. Fall-Proof Your Home
Carefully assess every room in your home and make a list of hazards, then address them one at a time. Start with removing all throw rugs — an all-too-common cause of falls. Hire a handyman if needed. To learn how to modify your kitchen, bathroom, stairs, and hallways, check out our Aging-in-Place Checklist.
5. Leverage Assistive Devices
Your healthcare provider may recommend investing in a cane or walker to help you feel steady and confident, which will encourage you to move more.
You may have to save for these more costly fall prevention tips that will help you move more confidently and independently through your home:
- Install handrails along both sides of your stairways
- Place non-slip treads on your wooden steps
- Install grab bars for the shower or tub
- Place a plastic seat and hand-held shower nozzle in your shower or tub
- Install a raised toilet seat
- Use the Independence ChairTM for fluid independent activity throughout your home
Some solutions you can install yourself, while others may require a handyman. They’re all worth doing, as an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.
6. Wear Sensible Shoes
Make sure to invest in properly fitting, sole-supporting shoes. Floppy slippers, shoes with slick soles, and high heels can all increase your risk of slipping, stumbling, and falling. The same goes for walking around in your socks. Choose only shoes that are sturdy and sensible with nonskid soles — they may also relieve some of your joint pain.
It’s worth following one of the more time-consuming fall prevention tips and shop for shoes with:
- Soles: Make sure the midsoles are hard, sturdy, slip-resistant, and not too flexible to ensure better stability — flexible shoes can cause you to twist your foot or ankle and fall. Never wear shoes with worn-out tread.
- Size: If your shoes are too big, your foot will slip and slide inside the shoe, causing you to lose balance. Shoes that are too tight cause foot pain, which makes it difficult to walk and focus on each step.
- Low Closed Heels: High heels are bad for posture and balance because they negatively impact your gait. Closed-heel shoes allow for greater stability. Open-heeled shoes frequently do not fit snugly enough, allowing your foot to slide in the shoe and creating instability and imbalance.
- Weight: Heavy shoes can be difficult to lift and cause you to shuffle when you walk — a fall risk. Your heels should not be more than an inch thick.
- Sole Material/Design: Smooth soles are slippery, and soles with too much tread grab at the ground, which can make you stumble. Choose soles made of slip-resistant material and good tread.
7. Get Enough Sleep
The National Institute on Aging recommends staying healthy by getting enough sleep — if you’re alert throughout the day, you’ll be less likely to lose your balance and fall. This may be challenging at first, but the best way to get adequate sleep is to follow a regular sleep schedule: always go to bed and wake up at the same time.
Other valuable fall prevention tips include:
- Don’t take naps in the late afternoon or evening
- Come up with a bedtime relaxation routine — reading, listening to meditative music, or soaking in a bubble bath — whatever works for you
- Avoid screens — television, computers, cell phones, tablets — in your bedroom. The light and sometimes content these devices emit could keep you awake
- Maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom — which should also be your quiet zone
8. Supplement with Vitamin D
Having healthy bones won’t prevent a fall, but if you fall, it might prevent breaking a hip or other bone, which may lead to a hospital or nursing home stay, disability, or even death. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong. So can physical activity. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity.
9. Avoid Excessive Alcohol
Many people believe that alcohol relaxes them and therefore helps them sleep, but The National Institute on Aging has found that drinking even small amounts can impair your coordination, balance, judgment, and reaction time.
Alcohol has a stimulant effect when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is around 0.05 mg/L but then transforms into a depressant once your BAC reaches 0.08 mg/L. It affects people unpredictably and is a factor in 60% of falls according to the National Institute on Aging.
10. Check the Weather Report
To prevent falls, avoid leaving your home in wet and icy weather conditions. Stay abreast of weather reports and make sure you have snow removed immediately before it gets packed down and turns to ice. If you must go somewhere, use an assistive device if needed, and take small, slow steps. Many injuries occur when entering or exiting a vehicle, so follow this most critical of fall prevention tips by getting assistance if needed.
11. Get Regular Checkups
Sometimes you don’t notice the repercussions of a fall or bump because you get used to the pain. Allow your healthcare provider to examine you from head to toe to detect any changes that may need to be addressed.
According to the CDC, a quarter of Americans over age 65 fall every year — impaired vision more than doubles their risk. A Johns Hopkins study demonstrated that hearing loss may also be a risk factor for falls. Hearing loss causes your brain to expend more resources to interpret speech and sound, so fewer are allocated for your gait or balance to prevent falls.
At least once a year, get your hearing assessed and get a dilated eye exam to reduce the risk of irreversible vision loss. Get a new pair of glasses if needed so you can easily read the rest of our fall prevention tips.
12. Invest in Bright Lighting
Light your home brightly to avoid tripping on objects you can’t see. You should also follow these simple fall prevention tips:
- Keep night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways
- Put a lamp next to your bed
- Install glow-in-the-dark or illuminated light switches and make sure the paths to them are clear
- Turn on the light before climbing up or downstairs
- Store multiple flashlights in accessible places in case of power outages
13. Remove Hazards
Do a thorough hazard assessment of your home room by room — including hallways and
closets — and remove all of these impediments:
- Remove all throw rugs. Then, either remove loose room rugs or secure them with double-sided tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing
- Remove electrical and phone cords, boxes, and newspaper stacks from walkways
- Clear your high-traffic areas of coffee tables, magazine racks, and plants
- Repair or replace loose floorboards and carpeting
- Store necessities (clothing, dishes, and food) within easy reach
- Wipe up spilled liquids, grease, or food immediately
- Place non-slip mats in your bathtub and install grab bars in your shower or tub
- Sit on a plastic bench while showering
Don’t wait — implement these fall prevention tips and enjoy independent activity as soon as possible.
How the Independence Chair™ Prevents Falls
Out of extreme caution, some people simply try to spend a large portion of their day in a standard bulky wheelchair, office chair, or mobility solution — but that can limit their ability to leverage many of the fall prevention tips above. Movement and activity are critical to wellness.
The Independence Chair™ is an activity chair. That means no more awkward, cumbersome distances between you and family, friends, or coworkers when you’re trying to sit around a table.
These unique features have helped hundreds of people prevent falls in their homes and offices:
Two-Wheel Locking System
Our two-wheel locking feature provides stability when you need to be stationary, and peace of mind during your smooth exits and entries. The Independence Chair™ was designed with active people who are looking for additional support to help them get where they need to go — both at home and at the office. It allows you to safely lock the wheels into place so it stays exactly where you want it.
By engaging the wheel locks, you can keep your Independence Chair™ secured and continue to perform daily activities like cooking, cleaning, or painting without having to worry about it sliding away from you when the wheel locks are engaged. You can also use the chair as a sit-to-stand aid to help you get up to a standing position; once you’re up, you can use it as a leaning post.
Seat Tilt and Adjustable Armrests
You can adjust the angle of the Independence Chair™ to use it as a leaning post or standing chair. The adjustable armrests and backrest adjustment allow for easy transfer, reducing your risk of falls while moving from a bed to a chair, from a chair to a wheelchair, or to a commode.
The streamlined armrests adjust out of your way with the touch of a button so you can shift seamlessly from a sitting to a standing position. They only move a quarter-inch at a time — to keep you from unexpectedly losing balance or falling out of your chair because the armrest has fallen out from under you. Armrests help you transfer between seating solutions — desk chair, kitchen stool, bathroom commode, couch, or bed. (If you ever forget, just check the pictograms that illustrate which lever or knob will accomplish the action you need.)
The Independence Chair™ operates on a 24-hour battery system that you can charge overnight when you’re not using it, removing the risk of tripping over loose cords. Batteries should last at 3-5 years, but users have reported longer battery life.
Our easy-to-attach-or-remove accessories — the foot brake, foot ring, and durable seat protector — position you in a proper sitting posture, enabling you to easily foot propel across your home. When you no longer need the foot ring, simply fold it away. You may also consider installing a companion bar it needed.
Having the castors locked at countertop height in case you stumble or fall backward while working or standing will help you safely stand and pivot into the chair without it migrating while you’re entering or exiting. The locking lever, which locks the casters, minimizes your risk of falling.
These adjustments are also designed so that they are easy to reach (especially the “special accessories” options, like our brake extension stick). They prevent you from exerting extra energy or force, so you don’t fall out of the chair when reaching for things.
These accessories are all designed in Denmark and manufactured with the high-quality materials Scandinavian furniture is known for. You can adjust the seat of the chair for anterior or posterior support based on your needs at any moment. And it doesn’t bend with age, so you’ll enjoy it for many years to come.
When you can adjust your height, you’ll feel more relaxed and independent while dicing at your kitchen counter, sautéing at the stove, or reaching once-challenging overhead cabinets. Some Independence Chair™ models feature power and manual height adjustments that allow you to raise and lower yourself with a 90° left and right swivel function.
With the touch of a button or lever, you can more easily align with the bathroom sink for washing up in the morning, or with your bed for transfers after turning in for the night. They also help prevent any impediments while you’re in motion to avoid falls.
Don’t let standing become a chore while you work. Our eight-level adjustment (especially paired with locking wheels) allows you to use the chair as a sit-to-stand aid — and once you are in a standing position, you can utilize the chair as a leaning post.Our four sturdy castors and welded steel frame do not bend with age — so they offer continuous support for users who can bear their own weight when making height adjustments or transferring in and out of beds, couches, and other chairs.
See for yourself why people tell us that investing in the Independence Chair™ is the most effective fall prevention tip: because it’s more than a chair — it’s a quality, personalized freedom device.