Why is a fall so dangerous and what can be done to prevent falls?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016
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Why is a fall so dangerous?  What can be done to prevent falls?

Expert Answers

Julie Kardachi is an occupational therapist, and Celeste Carlucci is a professional dancer and fitness expert. With more than 60 years of combined experience in the field, they created and run Fall Stop"¦MOVE STRONG, a joyful, dance- and education-based fall-prevention and strengthening program that keeps older adults active and safe at home and in their communities. They have been teaching this program since 2004, and the program DVD has been sold since 2008.

Falls represent a hidden public health crisis. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury death among older adults. One third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year, and one third of those have injuries that reduce independence. This has consequences for the person who fell and for their whole family; unfortunately, many people who have fractured a hip do not fully recover their mobility even after rehabilitation.

People who have fallen (or know someone who has fallen) can develop a fear of falling, even if they are not injured. This fear causes people to reduce their activities and leads to a loss of physical abilities and mobility, which actually increases the risk of falling. We often see people for whom fear has really limited what they do. This not only affects them physically, it affects their life satisfaction and confidence, because no longer participating in meaningful and productive activities can be very depressing.

The best way to prevent falls is to stay active, and be aware of the risks.
A good fall prevention exercise and education program will include exercise to increase balance and strength (these have been shown to be the most effective exercise for preventing falls), and education on risks and strategies to prevent falls.

To prevent falls:
1. Exercise and stay active: walk, challenge your balance, join a group"¦keeping active will keep you confident!
2. Check your medications (prescription and OTC) for interactions and side effects.
3. Have your vision checked, and wear your glasses. Also use bright lighting throughout your home.
4. Wear shoes inside and outdoors: good supportive shoes with non slip soles, a back, and low, flat, wide heels. Time to toss those old worn out slippers (SLIPpers make you SLIP!)
5. Check your home for hazards that increase your risk for falls. Some good home safety checklists can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/fallsmaterial.html; http://www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/SeniorSafe/fallcheck.pdf

If you have fallen before, your risk of falling again is higher, so speak to your doctor about the circumstances of your fall and take the actions above.