Fall Prevention for seniors is one of the most important things we can focus on.
Because falling is the most serious problem many of us will face when we become older.
Did you know:
reference: "Falls - Fact Sheet" aging.com
Yes. Falling can be very serious for us seniors.
So, let’s start learning more about fall prevention for seniors, and, how we can start preventing those falls as best as we can.
Here’s what can help:
#2 Having a Simple Prevention Check List
#3 Gaining Strength and Balance
We’re going to discuss each of these fall prevention for seniors tips in detail so that all of us seniors have less chance of falling.
Awareness is the first thing we can start practicing right now, today, to help prevent falls. Awareness of our environment. And, awareness of our own individual physical abilities.
Becoming More Aware
is the easiest and most effective thing
we can do right now
to help prevent a fall.
Awareness of our present moment and environment is the #1 thing we can start doing right now to help prevent falling. Even before we start improving our balance and our muscular strength. Even before we make our walkways and rooms more user friendly and less of a risk.
Yes, fall prevention for seniors includes strengthen all of our leg muscles and improving our balance. We'll get to those things in a moment. But, first let's learn how to spot, correct, and avoid potential problems.
Did you know:
Just becoming more aware of where falls may occur most,
and, what may cause a fall,
will frequently help us avoid most of them?
Yes, just having a short checklist so we remember:
can help us keep upright and help prevent falling.
According to the CDC, in 2016, approximately 2.8 million seniors were treated in the emergency room because of a fall.
2.8 million! Did you realize the number was so high?
This is the reason to include fall prevention preparation and education into our senior lives. And, once we get started, you’ll see it’s not difficult or time consuming to do.
So, now let’s take a look at what we can keep in mind through out our daily activities.
Learning fall prevention for seniors is not as complicated as it may seem right now. Interestingly enough, research has found we don’t have to “memorize” or write down lists that we need to go over every day all day, throughout the day….
NONE of us ever liked doing that. And, as seniors, we all usually refuse to do that kind of stuff now anyway. Right?
No. All we need to do each morning, for just one month, is read over a short list of things we want to be aware of each day. Then, let our subconscious minds do the rest.
After that first month, reading the list just once a week, will keep the ideas fresh and active. You’ll find fall prevention awareness soon becomes an automatic effortless habit.
That’s right. Just like knowing how to get to your kitchen from the front door, you will in a short time, know how and where you can walk and how you should get from one place to another with less risk of falling.
Fall prevention for seniors starts in our incredible minds. Our minds are always trying their best to help us survive. In spite of some things we choose to do or not do. It’s natural instinct. Survival.
Staying upright is a very basic survival mechanism for everyone. Including us seniors. We just often lose a lot of our physical ability to do this.
Little kids are different. They are like rubber balls. It is one of Mother Natures natural gifts to children. Little children can, and do, fall all day long. Hard. It’s part of their natural learning curve. And, they never seem to get anything more than a scrape and have some enormously loud crying time. Right?
As seniors, we are more like fine porcelain tea cups. Our bones are hard and more brittle now. Drop us and we may shatter. And, we don’t necessarily mend that quickly either. So, learning all about fall prevention for seniors is important for all of us.
We know this. Our minds know this. Our subconscious knows this. We don’t have to think about it.
When we read over our checklist each morning for just 30 days, we “plant the mental seeds” of fall prevention. Our subconscious minds will become aware and take over. Effortlessly.
Still, we do have to plant these seeds up there. We need to read over our fall prevention ckecklists a number of times for a period of time to get the whole process working.
And, the more times we are willing to just read over our checklists, just once each morning, casually, the stronger the internal imprint becomes, and, the more effective the process becomes.
It only takes about 30 seconds each morning for one month to do this.
Unless you have some serious decline (which means you wouldn’t be reading this page in the first place), here is our Fall Prevention for Seniors Checklist of 24 things to “plant” in your mind and implement in your environment that will help you keep from falling:
1 - Use Non-Slip Mats
2 - Wear Non-Slip Sneakers
3 - Use Grab Bars in The Bathroom, and, the Shower
4 - Increase the Brightness of Your Lighting
5 - Get Regular Eye Exams
6 - Wear Your Glasses
7 - Get regular Hearing Exams
8 - Wear a Hearing Aid if You Need One
9 - Scan The Room Before You Go In
10 - Get Up Slowly
11 - Lock You Brakes (on a wheelchair)
12 - Use Chairs with Arm Rests
13 - Ask for Help When Things Are Hard to Reach
14 - Pace Yourself
15 - Wear Clothes that Don’t Drag on the Floor
16 - Take Care of Your Feet
17 - Use the Chair Armrests to Help You Stand
18 - Remove Clutter from the Floors
19 - Sit on a Shower Seat When Washing Your Hair
20 - Get as Close as You Can to Your Task
21 - Shop at Less Busy Times
22 - Don’t Rush
23 - Eat Regular Meals
24 - Get Enough Sleep
Did this short list take you about 30 seconds or less to read through?
You don’t have to work on remembering it.
If you just read it once every morning for only 30 days, the thoughts will begin to stick. And, you’ll be setting yourself up for a more confident stable day every day.
Remember: After 30 days your mind will be automatically more aware of all these things that can help prevent a fall. You’ll have a new awareness habit. You’ll find you are much more careful. And, much more stable.
And, how much time did you actually invest in this venture? About 15 minutes for the whole month.
Does that seem worth it?
As we get older and older, falls become more common and more dangerous. Learning the techniques of fall prevention for seniors becomes more and more important.
“Approximately 28-35% of people aged of 65 and over fall each year increasing to 32-42% for those over 70 years of age. The frequency of falls increases with age and frailty level. Approximately 30-50% of people living in long-term care institutions fall each year, and 40% of them experienced recurrent falls.”
And unfortunately, there is more. The WHO report shares even more alarming statistics relating to elderly falls:
reference: "What are the Facts About Fall Risk?"
The next step is to reduce the “Booby Traps” that we may not even know exist.
Let’s begin in the bathroom.
Wet surfaces are the most slippery. A fall comes very fast on a wet surface. Even for a youngster. And, as seniors, we usually don’t have the balance, strength, or reaction speed to catch ourselves when we slip on a wet surface. This is mostly not our fault. We’re older. And, that’s a part of being older.
So, when we are increasing fall prevention for seniors, we need to make sure our living environment is kept safe from things that can cause us a problem.
Even some common ordinary things like stepping out of a shower or tub seems quite innocent and easy. Right?
But, this is a prime place to go crashing down on to the floor. And, it can be a disaster. The same applies to the kitchen sink area and anyplace we use water.
What to Do:
#1) Use non-slip mats everywhere in the bath. Especially in the shower, next to the shower, tub, and sink.
#2) Put grab bars in the shower, by the tub, by the toilet. And, anywhere you may need a bit more stability. Be sure they are secured in a solid beam behind the plaster or paneling.
Grab bars are some of the best things we can install when we are trying to create more fall prevention for seniors.
Remember: Towel bars will not hold our full body weight. They will come right out and are really useless during a fall.
#3) Shower seats.
Unless you are still very confident and strong, put a seat in the
shower. We seniors can feel far more secure when seated in the shower.
Especially when washing our hair.
#4) Replace the shower head with a hand held hose and nozzle.
We don’t need to be dancing around in the shower these days. BUT, we do want to get nice and clean all over. With a hand held nozzle on a nice long hose, we can aim at any area we want, while seated, without having to control our balance while standing.
Also, if someone else flushes a toilet in the house, we won’t get scalded, or slip from a the sudden surprise. We can just turn the nozzle away from ourself. Instantly.
The next major area of concern are our stairways. Both inside the house and outside. Let’s see how we can implement fall protection for seniors in these areas:
#5) Keep the Stairs Clear. Keep the stairs clear of everything. Nothing should ever be left on any of the stairs. Not even the bottom one.
No clothes. Toys. The mail, etc…. Anything left on the stairs can be a tripping or slipping hazard. Even a wet stair. Keep ALL the stairs clean, dry, and free of anything.
#6) Increase Visibility. Elder seniors eyesight may not be able to differentiate one step from the next with certainty. Fall prevention for seniors includes making our stairs and walkways easy to see.
Remove carpeting. The edges are slippery. Replace the carpeting with stair treads, or, the wonderful rough gritty feeling stair grip tape we use outdoors on steps in the winter.
And, to increase visibility and depth perception, mark the front edge of each new step with bright reflective tape.
You can also paint each step a different color for better visibility.
#7) Use Handrails. Put handrails on both sides of the steps. All the way from bottom to top. Do this for every staircase.
#8) Tighten ALL the Handrails. A loose handrail can be worse than no handrail at all. A loose handrail gives a false sense of security.
Make sure all the handrails, inside and outside the house are tight and strong. You may need to get a professional to do this properly.
Again, don’t balk at the cost of hiring a professional to do it securely and right. The cost of a fall can be incredibly more expensive. Not just in cash, but, in pain and emotional distress.
#9) Is it time for a Stairlift?
Knowing our seniors limitations, and helping them avoid risky things, is a big part of fall protection for seniors.
For a number of seniors, as they age, climbing stairs is going to become either too difficult, or, eventually impossible. That doesn't mean they have to find a new home.
A stairlift is a wonderful device that will take us seniors, who have less mobility, up and down the stairs while comfortably and securely seated.
Why move to a single story home when a stairlift can keep us in the home we love (with all of it’s comforts and joyful memories) and keep us able to navigate both levels just as we used to?
Did you know that no matter how good your eyes may be, you see more clearly and accurately with better lighting?
Many seniors don’t see that well in dark or shadowy rooms and halls to begin with. All the shadows and lack of visibility create greater chances of stumbling and falling. Installing brighter lighting where needed is one of the very best things we can do in creating more fall prevention for seniors.
A lot of us seniors are using weak 40 watt bulbs, or no lighting at all, where we should have 100 or even 200 watt bulbs.
And, these days, the new LED light bulbs give us that brighter lighting using a fraction of the electricity. So, switch to brighter LED bulbs and you won’t need to worry that your electric bill is going to skyrocket.
On the same note: If your senior is now in a wheelchair, make sure they can reach the light switches easily.
Falling in winter cold can be especially painful and it’s as quick and terrible as falling on a wet bathroom floor.
Knowing how to improve fall prevention for seniors is especially necessary in winter because ice and snow come with many extreme hazards that aren't always so obvious.
We need to be sure to thoroughly shovel the snow off all stairs and walkways. And, this includes getting rid of the little innocent looking ice chips that can take us down in an instant.
These small pieces of ice that stick to stairs and walkways are too often overlooked. But, they can be the most treacherous.
Here’s how to get rid of them: After shoveling, salt the walkways and steps until all remaining ice and ice chips are melted away. Make sure all the little ice chips are completely melted away by the salt. Then sprinkle sand on all walkways and stairs for improved traction.
Those little ice chip devils are so often overlooked.
As we age, many of us seniors are long past shoveling our own steps and driveways for numerous reasons. So, get a younger family member, or, hire someone to clean the steps (and walkways) thoroughly. And, make sure they do the salt and sand after shoveling.
Buy a pair of snow cleats that can attach to your shoes and boots. They are only about $20 at your local hardware store or online.
Don’t risk a fall. The cost of having this done properly may seem high sometimes. But, it’s far far less expensive and inconvenient than what a fall would be.
Fall prevention for seniors starts with our feet.
It is almost impossible to overemphasize the importance of wearing shoes and sneakers that fit properly. And, too many of us neglect paying attention to this.
Poor foot support greatly decreases stability and can have you tumbling down very quickly and unexpectedly. This is true even for a 20 year old athlete. It's just way worse for us seniors.
Make sure your footwear fits properly.
This is so important.
Also: Wear only shoes that have non-slip soles and heels. You want rubber non-slip soles and heels. The fancy thin Italian leather soles and heals can slip and slide like crazy. I’ve even seen more than one of our dancers (who have extraordinary balance) go down because of smooth leather soles on their shoes.
No long shoe laces either. Those are a disaster waiting to happen. Even for the most nimble and athletic.
You can even get rid of shoe laces all together with Velcro Shoes. Velcro shoes are easy to tighten and loosen. And, there will never be a problem with tripping on laces.
No one wants to use these things. Right? Walking Canes and Walkers make us feel old. Until we see how much easier and more confidently we can get from here to there by using one.
Canes and Walkers can greatly increase our independence, freedom, and quality of life. Many seniors find these items soon become a new best friend.
A great amount of fall prevention for seniors can be found by simply enjoying the use of a cane. And, there are lots of good looking ones to choose from too!
Are there any wires or extension cords running across the floor anywhere in the house? From lamps? The TV? Appliances?
If they are necessary, either tape them down securely, or run them along the walls and behind the furniture.
If you have to have an extension cord running across the floor for any reason, make sure it is taped down in a way that prevents catching your foot on it and tripping.
Here's a VIDEO from Brian with great simple instructions on how to do this. He's going to show you exactly how the professionals in the movie business do it:
One of the most obvious (and too often overlooked) ways to increase fall prevention for seniors is simply to get all the unnecessary furniture out of our rooms.
We often accumulate a lot of stuff in our lifetimes. And, furniture often tops the list. A lot of these many and varied pieces of furniture are no longer necessary items anymore. And, they can make navigation difficult.
The kids have moved out. There's only one or two of us in the home now. So, we don't need enough furniture in each and every room to accommodate a small village.
Make coming and going easy, spacious, and without all kinds of obstacles.
One of the most important things we can do as we age is stay active and reasonably strong. Taking care of our leg strength, and being physically active, will also give us better balance. Two of the very most important things when we work on fall prevention for seniors.
Any kind of regular exercise for our legs is going to keep us more stable with stronger muscles and better balance. There’s no denying it.
Regular leg exercise, even just regular walking each day (even with your cane or walker), provides lots of great help with fall prevention for seniors.
Wearing your glasses seems almost too obvious. Right?
But, how many times is it just “not convenient” to go get them?
Don’t be ashamed. We are ALL guilty of this.
Did you know that poor vision is one of the main causes of falling for seniors? Fall prevention for seniors starts with knowing exactly where we are standing and where we are going.
And, even if we don’t fall, when we can’t see properly, we bump into things more. And, breaking a toe, because we weren’t aware of a chair leg in our path, can be excruciating!
As we age, our eyesight usually weakens. It’s normal. Our vision can become blurry. Cloudy. Depth perception may diminish significantly. ALL these things can cause a fall.
If we can’t see clearly, or define different surfaces, if we have poor depth perception,… how are we supposed to navigate correctly and confidently? Right?
Be sure to have regular eye exams
wear your glasses.
Here’s a great tip that will overcome any laziness: Always have your glasses with you. How? Have the ear pieces connected with a strap so that your glasses hang around your neck like a necklace when you are not wearing them.
You can get very basic plain ones. But, these straps and chains come in all different cool very fashionable styles and color too!
How many times have each of us (I am no exception to this) not bothered to get our glasses when we wanted to see something better, just because it seemed like too much of an effort?
That’s what the neck strap is for.
Wearing your glasses and keeping your vision as sharp and clear as you can is an enormous aid in fall prevention for seniors.
“Do fall prevention programs really work to keep seniors safe? Falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and injury for seniors and preventing them is extremely important. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year and every 11 seconds a senior is treated for a fall in the emergency room.
Balance is key to preventing falls. Strong leg muscles and a strong core promote balance by encouraging stable walking. Weak muscles can’t support the hips and back and that leads to unbalanced walking. Strong muscles can also help the senior to catch him or herself should they begin to fall.”
reference: "Do Fall Prevention Programs Really Work?"
Now, we’re going to get stronger.
It’s time for the serious work. Exercise. Don’t run away! No. It’s not really that bad. And, it only takes about 15 minutes a day 3 or 4 days a week. OK?
Do you think you’re too old for strength building? You’re not. Not by a long shot.
Did you know that people can exercise and gain muscle even into their 90s? Yes. Even into our 90s.
reference: “Study on 90-Year-Olds Reveals the Benefits of Strength Training”
Gaining strength and balance are the two most important things we can do to help prevent falls.
I know. Some of you are elderly and thinking I must be a bit crazy if I think you’re going to start working out and become an athlete now. Right?
Right. We agree completely.
And, that’s not the kind of strengthening we’re talking about here.
We’re just talking about using our senior muscles each day. And, little by little gaining more strength and better balance. And, we’re not talking about doing all kinds of unbearably boring tiring things we will very soon come to hate either.
Nope! Exercising can be fun. If you know how to do it the fun way.
Just for that reason, we have an entire article for you called: “Senior Exercise - Doing The FUN Stuff! (forget about the rest….)"
Give that link a click and see how much fun getting stronger can be.
And, for improving your balance, here’s a great video with a 10 minute program that you can exercise along with:
Did you know that not only is dancing the best exercise for your mind, it is also the best exercise for keeping and improving your balance?
Yeah. Dancing is the most fun way to get enormous balance benefits.
Most of us know we use our leg muscles to stand, walk, run, etc….
And, most of us think we have two big muscles. One in each leg.
Well, surprise! There are numerous muscle in our hips, legs, and thighs. Some large. Some small. All working together. ALL of which are necessary for holding and maintaining our balance.
is the one single exercise that can strengthen them all.
No, you don’t need to become a ballet dancer and exercise 6 hours every day.
Just regular social ballroom, or Tango Dancing (my favorite) will do the trick.
And, if your social life is a bit slim right now, dancing is one of the most fun social activities in the entire world!
Another really great aspect of dancing is: No matter what level of dancer you may be, professional or first day beginner, there are dance classes available for your level with others who are at exactly the same level you are.
If you are willing to start taking some regular dance classes, you’re not really going to need anything else for leg strength and balance.
And, if you just want to start dancing at home right now, here’s our article on “Easy Dance Moves for Seniors”.
We have 10 fantastic dance along VIDEOS on there for you to learn all styles of dancing. From Belly Dancing, to Ballet, to Hip Hop, to Disco, and more.
After a fall, we are usually quite shaken. And, we tend to lose a lot of confidence in our own abilities.
Did you know that after a fall the likelihood of falling again increases?
Remember: “A single fall can begin chain reaction of more falls. While a senior or a family caregiver may dismiss a fall as not being serious, this could be completely wrong. Let that first fall serve as a red flag of warning…. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again."
reference: “15 Ways to Reduce Fall Risk and Help Prevent Fall for Seniors"
Yes. This is due to a number of reasons. But, two main reasons are:
Lack of Confidence is a natural reaction to our physical ability after a fall. It’s very important to start exercising and strengthening once everything is healed.
When our legs become stronger and our balance becomes better, our confidence and certainty grows and grows.
We will be weaker after falling, and, an extended period of confinement. It’s not necessary to go way down hill after that. Exercising our muscles, practicing our balance, using a cane or walker as needed will get us back into the swing of things.
A fall need not be the end of the world.
Worry diminishes our confidence. It’s very important to work on regaining this confidence through muscular exercise and balance exercises. Once we do, our worry disappears.
If, after a fall, we don’t try to regain our ability, depression is often the result. We can become sad, feel hopeless, suffer mood swings, etc… We can go permanently down hill fast if we don’t get moving again.
As soon as possible, we must do our exercises to regain strength, balance, and confidence. Use that cane or walker if necessary. Freedom of movement helps to keep us feeling and being independent.
The quicker we get back to being more able, the quicker we feel better. And, that dark cloud will disappear.
Recuperation. This one, for us seniors, can be enormously annoying.
Having been an athlete most of my life, one of the distressing things I face is how darn long it takes to recuperate as a senior. From everything. Absolutely everything. Right?
Remember being 21 and going dancing and drinking all night, waking up the next day with a huge hangover, and being absolutely fine by that evening?… Not, anymore….. Oh no…..
The same thing with exercising. We used to workout or play sports until we were ready to drop, and, be ready to go again the next day…. Not, anymore…..
The same is true now, after a fall, also. Whatever damage we may incur takes us so much longer to heal from than it did when we were much younger. Am I right?
That’s just the way of life.
So, remember, if you have experienced a fall, and gotten a bit broken and bruised, it’s going to take a while to get back to whatever your normal was before the fall. Usually longer than you were thinking or hoping. Don’t despair.
The message here is: BE PATIENT. Don’t give up on your new exercises. We seniors do recuperate. We can be even stronger than we were before the fall. Really. It just takes us a lot longer to get there than it used to.
Remember: It’s going to take some time no matter what we do. Sometimes quite a while. Be patient. Be persistent. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. You’ll get there.
Fall prevention for seniors is very important. Still, a number of us are going to fall unexpectedly. And, we will need to get up from it.
If you have fallen, it may be difficult to get back up.
If you feel pain,
especially in your back or hips,
remain where you are, dial 911, and wait for assistance.
Getting back up incorrectly after a fall
may CAUSE serious injury.
That being said.... Here is a VIDEO from Robyn Watson, an Over 50 Instructor, that shows us how to get back up from the floor.
We especially like this Video because it shows up how to get ourselves back up off the floor. Putting falling aside here for a moment, many of us will sit on the floor at times for various reasons (like watching TV), and, not know how to get ourselves back up again. This VIDEO will help out:
Please take this little piece of advice seriously: Don’t Be a Hero. You may do more harm than good.
Yes, we are all trying to be good people. We always want to be of assistance when another person has fallen. It’s just “the right thing to do”. Right?
Don’t be a “Hero”.
You might make things worse. MUCH worse.
We all know that falls can cause serious injuries in seniors. Right?
BUT: Did you know that getting up improperly can also cause serious injury? Yes, it can.
You should never attempt to help someone up if they have fallen. Especially if they have any kind back or hip pain. Call 911 and wait for a professional.
If the person who has fallen is experiencing back or hip pain
of any kind,
if you have any doubts at all about the person’s condition,
have the person remain on the floor.
Call 911 and wait
until someone from 911 arrives to assist them.
Learning fall prevention for seniors is so vitally important. Too many of us fall each year. About 1 out of 4. And, too often a serious injury occurs.
We may not be able to completely eliminate seniors falling.
But, we can greatly reduce the possibility of suffering a fall with the simple, easy to implement techniques, of fall prevention for seniors outlined in this article.
For a Better Day Every Day! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte