Tips for fall prevention

Learn how you can reduce your risk of injury from falling.

A caregiver helping an elderly woman down the stairs.

It is a common misconception that as a person grows older, they will likely experience a fall and potentially injure themselves. As a person ages, it is true that they may have a decrease in muscle strength, flexibility and balance, but falling does not have to be a normal part of the aging process. Fall prevention awareness strategies and community instructional programs work hand in hand to help older adults overcome the fear of falling, maintain independence and regain the confidence to stay active.

Often, falls occur inside the home or close to the home, so it is important to start your fall prevention strategies by assessing the home environment. Next, have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare team and family to develop a prevention strategy. Small changes can easily resolve potential tripping hazards or dangerous areas in your home, often at minimal or no cost.

The National Council on Aging (NCA) provides the following tips to prevent a fall:

  • Find a good balance and exercise program such as Tai Chi or Matter of Balance. Connecting with your local senior center or Area Agency on Aging is a great resource for fall prevention programs.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider and share if you have fallen and/or if you fear falling. This information is helpful when you discuss a prevention plan with your provider.
  • Regularly review your medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
  • Make sure to get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses when needed. Changes in your vision and hearing can put you at more risk for falls.
  • Keep your home safe by assessing your living space for potential falling hazards. There are many simple and effective ways to make your home more fall-proof such as removing loose rugs, changing lightbulbs or putting a chair in the shower. The Centers for Disease Control's at-home fall prevention safety checklist is a great resource to use to assess your own home.
  • Be honest with family members. Share your concerns about falling so that a proper fall prevention plan can be put in place.

The first tip from National Council on Aging is to find a good balance and exercise program that you can enroll in to improve and maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. Michigan State University Extension offers two exercise and balance programs that help reduce the fear of falling and improve balance: A Matter of Balance and Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention. A Matter of Balance helps adults learn how to reduce their risk and fears of falling and incorporate prevention strategies into daily living. Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention supports adults by incorporating slow, progressive movements to improve balance and flexibility and prevent falls. Ongoing research has found tai chi practice beneficial for various chronic conditions. For more information on these programs, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office for more information.

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