Helping Your Older Loved Ones Avoid Falls

September 28, 2021

Every September, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the national voice for every person’s right to age well, sponsors Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

We know many of our staff members care for parents and grandparents at home, and we’d like to share an easy way to check someone’s risk of falling. NCOA’s free online “Falls Free CheckUp” is a 12-question tool that quickly and easily assesses fall risks and offers ways to reduce risks. The checkup is also available in Spanish as the Chequeo Contra Caídas.

“Annual checkups are an important way to stay healthy as we age—and that includes checking your risk of falling every year,” said Ramsey Alwin, NCOA president and CEO.

The NCOA offers these tips to help the seniors in your life reduce their risk of falls. Encourage them to:

  1. Find a good balance and exercise program that will increase their balance, strength, and flexibility.
  2. Talk to their health care provider. They can share the results of their online assessment, or ask for the health care provider to do one. Share any history of recent falls.
  3. Regularly review their medications with their doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing the risk of falling.
  4. Get their vision and hearing checked annually and update their eyeglasses. Our eyes and ears are key to keeping us on our feet.
  5. Keep their home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.
  6. Talk to other family members. Everyone can take simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a risk for seniors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths.

“Falling is not a normal part of aging, and it can be prevented,” said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging. “We believe it is a team effort to empower all older adults to reduce their risk.”