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Take a Stand on Falls

Senior man and womanHelp make older adult fall prevention part of every healthcare practice.

Every day, more than 10,000 Americans turn age 65. Among this age group, falls are the leading cause of injury, making falls a growing problem for older adults across the nation. These injuries are treated in an emergency department every 13 seconds and claim a life every 20 minutes. Every year, 1 out of 3 older adults falls, yet less than half tell their doctor about it. Although falls pose various health risks—they can be prevented.

What is CDC doing to prevent falls?

To help, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to make fall prevention a routine part of clinical care through its STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents Deaths & Injuries) initiative.

STEADI uses established clinical guidelines and effective strategies to help primary care providers address their older patients' fall risk and identify modifiable risk factors, offering patients solutions that work.

STEADI materials include:

  • Screening tools
  • Case studies and tips for talking with older patients about falls
  • Instructional videos for measuring functional ability
  • Educational materials for patients and their families

STEADI Online Training:

  • STEADI is now available as an interactive online training module that healthcare professionals can take to learn how to incorporate fall prevention into their daily clinical practice.
  • Continuing education is available for doctors, nurses, certified health educators, certified public health professionals, and others who take the course.
  • Log in at cdc.train.org, then search for "STEADI."

Additional resources designed to assist public health practitioners, clinicians, and community-based organizations develop and implement evidence-based fall prevention programs include:

Senior woman hiking by lake and mountains

Regular exercise can help older adults lower their risk of falling.

What can older adults do to prevent falls?

As an older adult, there are many steps you can take to decrease your risk of falling. Take action and follow these strategies to be safe and avoid injuries!

  • Ask your healthcare provider about falls and what you can do to prevent them. It's important to discuss your fall risk with a healthcare provider at least once every year. Talking about your fall risk can help you identify ways to stay independent longer.
  • Reduce your risk of falling by exercising regularly. Exercises must focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and they need to get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are proven to be especially good for this.
  • Have an eye exam at least once a year. Update your eyeglasses when needed and consider getting a pair with single vision distance for outdoor activities such as walking.
  • Make your home safer. Get rid of things you could trip over. Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet. Put railings on both sides of stairs. Ensure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

What can Healthcare Providers do to prevent falls?

Specific steps can be taken within the healthcare setting to help safeguard older Americans so they stay healthy, active, and independent longer. Make STEADI part of your medical practice; it will help you to:

  • Identify your patients who are at low, moderate, and high risk for falls,
  • Identify their modifiable factors, and
  • Offer them effective interventions.

You can complete these three steps in a single clinical visit:

  • ASK patients:
    • Have you fallen in the past year?
    • Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
    • Do you worry about falling?

"Are You Asking Older Adult Patients the Right Questions?" is a short video posted on Medscape's CDC Expert Commentary that encourages clinicians to ask these three screening questions each time they see an adult age 65 and older.

  • REVIEW medications and stop, switch, or reduce the dosage of drugs that increase fall risk.
    • Most importantly, reduce or eliminate psychoactive drugs, especially any benzodiazepines.
    • For more information, see Medications Linked to Falls.
  • RECOMMEND vitamin D supplements of at least 800 IU/day with calcium.

For every 5,000 healthcare providers who adopt STEADI, over a 5-year period, as many as:

  • 6 million more patients could be screened,
  • 1 million more falls could be prevented , and
  • $3.5 billion more in direct medical costs could be saved.

Join us in helping to prevent older adult falls and take this life-saving training today. Log in or create an account on CDC TRAIN and search "STEADI." Find out more.

  • Page last reviewed: September 24, 2015
  • Page last updated: September 24, 2015
  • Content source:
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