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Take a Stand on Falls

Asian woman with mother
Help manage fall risk and keep older adults independent longer.

Each year, more than one in four older adults aged 65 and older will fall. Among older Americans, falls are the number one cause of injuries and death from injury. This represents 29 million falls, 3 million emergency department (ED) visits, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 28,000 deaths. As the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, falls will continue to soar, as America’s baby boomers grow older.

Falls are also costly. Older adult falls result in more than $31 billion in annual Medicare costs. These costs will surge unless we recognize the problem and focus on prevention. This year on the first day of fall, Friday, September 22, 2017, CDC along with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), invites you to join us in observing the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (#FPAD2017). This event raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older Americans.

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.

The core elements of STEADI include screening older patients for fall risk, assessing their modifiable fall risk factors, and intervening to reduce risk using effective clinical and community strategies.

To help members of the healthcare team address falls with their patients, STEADI offers a suite of free tools and resources, including:

  • Case studies and tips for talking with older patients about falls
  • Instructional videos for measuring functional ability
  • Screening tools
  • Educational materials for patients and their families
  • Free continuing education, which is now available as multiple interactive online trainings for doctors, nurses, certified health educators, certified public health professionals, and others who take the course.

What can older adults do to prevent falls?

Falls are not just a normal part of aging. Older Americans and their caregivers can take steps to prevent them. If you’re an older American, you can lower your chances of falling. You should:

  • Talk openly with your healthcare provider about falls.
    • Tell a provider right away if you fall, worry about falling, or feel unsteady. Some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy, and can cause you to fall. Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medicines you take—even over-the-counter medicines.
  • Exercise to improve your balance and strength.
    • Exercises that improve balance and make your legs stronger lower your chances of falling. It also helps you feel better and more confident. An example of this kind of exercise is Tai Chi. Lack of exercise leads to weakness, and increases your chances of falling.
  • Have your eyes and feet checked.
    • Once a year, check with your eye doctor, and update your eyeglasses, if needed. You may have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
    • Also, have your healthcare provider check your feet once a year. Discuss proper footwear, and ask whether seeing a foot specialist is advised.
  • Make your home safer.
    • Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
    • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
    • Have grab bars put in next to and inside the tub, and next to the toilet.
    • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.

The number of fall-related injuries and deaths are expected to surge unless preventive measures are taken. Encourage older Americans you know to take steps toward living longer and healthier lives. Don’t let them fall behind on fall prevention.

  • Page last reviewed: September 22, 2017
  • Page last updated: September 22, 2017
  • Content source:
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