Older Adult Falls Prevention
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A13
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1722
Unintentional falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among Florida residents ages 65 years and older.
In 2015, 2,603 older adults were fatally injured in a fall.
In addition to deaths and injuries, as well as the costs associated with them, falls can have many negative consequences for older adults, including:
- Fear of falling again
- Forced relocation from the home
- Loss of independence
- Stress in the family
By reducing their chance of a fall, older adults can stay independent and have an increased quality of life.
Preventing Falls Among Older Adults
There are many reasons why an older adult might fall, including a variety of biological, behavioral, and environmental factors. These risk factors include:
- A previous fall
- Chronic health conditions (e.g., arthritis, stroke)
- Conditions in the home (e.g., slippery floors, loose rugs, cords on the floor, poor lighting)
- Fear of falling
- Medicines (including interaction effects)
- Mobility problems (e.g., muscle weakness, balance)
- Poor nutrition (leading to weakness, dizziness, fainting)
- Poor vision or hearing
Older adults who have one or more of these conditions may have a higher risk of falling. The following practices are recommended for older adults to reduce their chances of falling and help them stay independent:
- Exercising regularly (especially leg strengthening and improving balance)
- Having an eye doctor check their vision at least once a year
- Making their home environment safer
- Reviewing their medicines with a doctor or pharmacist
There are evidence-based interventions for older adults, including programs designed specifically to prevent falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources available for providers interested in these interventions, including a compendium of evidence based fall interventions and a guide on developing community based falls prevention programs. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) also has information about evidence based programs. A few of the interventions being conducted in Florida include:
- A Matter of Balance
- Stepping On
- Tai JiQuan: Moving for Better Balance (previously known as Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance)
Older adults interested in participating in a community based program should contact their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.