Unintentional Injuries & Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least one-third of older adults in the U. S. fall each year, causing 18,000 deaths and 1 8 million emergency room visits. In fact, falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U. S. Falls among older adults lead to injuries, such as hip fractures, which, in turn, result in death within one year about 20 percent of the time. Among the elderly, hip fractures are the most serious consequence of falling. The older an individual when they fall, the more likely they are to be admitted to a nursing home according to the CDC.

Are You At Risk of Falling?

Have you fallen in the last 12 months? Yes
Do you have difficulty seeing clearly? Yes
When seated, do you have trouble getting back up? Yes
When you stand, do you sometimes feel light-headed, dizzy or off-balance? Yes
Do you take four or more medicines each day, including non-prescription remedies? Yes
Are you depressed or feeling down? Yes
Is it sometimes hard to walk because you feel stiff, weak or your feet hurt? Yes
Do you sometimes make frequent or hurried trips to the bathroom? Yes
Do you limit your activities because you are afraid you might fall? Yes
At home, is it sometimes difficult to move around safely because items you need are hard to reach or have to be carried? Yes

If you answered Yes to ANY of the above questions, you are at increased risk of falls. Consult a physician about mitigation strategies. If you answered No to ALL of the above questions, you are not at increased risk of falls. Continue to monitor your physical and mental capacity.

Treatment & Management

  • Repair pavement irregularities
  • Eliminate poor lighting in traffic areas and on stairs
  • Carpet slippery floors
  • Wear shoes that are sturdy and fit properly; consider lace-up shoes, rather than slip-ons
  • Clean eyeglasses daily
  • Use visual adaptations including contrast for stairs
  • Use grab bars and rails for support
  • Participate in A Matter of Balance class to improve balance exercises
  • Enroll in Tai Chi and Yoga for balance improvement
  • Get a walking stick, cane, or walker if you experience balance problems, light-headedness, or dizziness
  • Reduce lower hip fracture risk by getting adequate calcium and Vitamin D; undertake a program of weight bearing exercise; and be screened and treated for osteoporosis
  • Have an Annual Wellness Visit that is covered by Medicare which may include the following tests: Vital Signs, Mental Status Testing, Cardiac, Musculoskeletal, Neurologic, Proprioception, Vision, Hearing, Gait and Balance Testing
  • Wear protective pads to reduce the risk of hip fractures (if falls occur frequently)

You can also download a Fall Prevention Checklist to help you reduce fall hazards in your home.

Questions For Your Doctor

  • Are any of the medications that I am currently taking likely to cause falls? How about the interactions between medications?
  • Are there problems with my feet that may be causing me to fall, such as bunions?
  • Are the shoes that I am wearing appropriate for my current health condition(s)?
  • Would occupational therapy or physical therapy help to prevent falls?


  • Undertake daily activities in a safe manner, such as reaching and bending properly, taking time to recover balance when rising from a chair or bed, learning the proper way to fall, and learning how to recover after a fall.
  • Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone.
  • When standing at your sink, practice balance by lifting one foot and holding it off the floor for 10 seconds. Try to hold it longer. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Put a phone near the floor in case a fall prevents you from coming to a standing or sitting position.
  • Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case a severe fall prohibits moving

Helpful Resources
National Council on Aging
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download This Unintentional Injuries Monogram