10 Things You Can Do To Prevent Falls by: Anita Kamiel, R.N., M.P.S.

friendly caregiver talking to senior woman outdoors


It used to not be this way.

How many times have you heard someone say their father or mother was fine before he or she fell? For many older adults, an unexpected fall can touch off a series of events that end in serious or fatal complications. It can lead to extended hospital stays and disabling conditions that make living independently more of a challenge.

As we age, we begin to lose our balance. Due to their unsteadiness, the elderly are terribly afraid of falling and tend to view themselves as fragile. This is one of the underlying reasons they avoid commonplace activities like walking, shopping and even socializing. Their physical reality combined with their fears often exacerbates their feelings of isolation and depression, all too common in this group.


May be the most serious concern for the elderly.

The National Institute of Health maintains that “falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths” among those 65 and older in the US making fall prevention in the elderly a high priority. The risk only increases as we age with one in five people 85 and older reporting a fall more than once a year compared to one in 10 of those between 65 and 74. Falls in the elderly are often fatal or have long term consequences for performing their activities of daily living.

Elderly patients must be counseled on how to prevent falls in terms of their surroundings and medications. Certain drugs can affect their already compromised sense of balance. They include:

  • anti-seizure drugs (anticonvulsants)
  • hypertensive (high blood pressure) drugs
  • sedatives
  • tranquilizers
  • anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
  • aminoglycosides (a type of antibiotic)
  • diuretics
  • vasodilators
  • certain analgesics (painkillers)
  • certain chemotherapeutics (anti-cancer drugs).

Things you can do.

The National Institute on Aging has a handy tip sheet at Go4Life on preventing falls.

Here are 10 things you can do to prevent falls:

  1. Regular exercise, especially those that work on balance like yoga and tai chi, can help steady the elderly adult as can weight-bearing exercises that slow bone loss and lower-body strengthening exercises.
  2. Elderproofing a home where most falls occur while doing mundane tasks is critical. Tripping hazards from carpets, wires, and clutter must be removed. Half of all falls at home happen in the bathroom and a misstep in this room can spell disaster. Grab bars in places like the shower, tub and toilet as well as proper lighting are essential.
  3. Make regular eye and hearing check-ups to ensure properly fitted glasses with the optimal prescription. Wearing bifocals while walking or on steps may blur the vision enough to cause falls. Proper hearing can ensure no cues are missed.
  4. Regular dizziness may indicate an underlying medical condition with respect to blood pressure, circulation, or sensory issues which should be checked out by a physician.
  5. Physical therapy may be useful for improving balance and walking confidence.
  6. Have the doctor or pharmacist review all medications to identify those most likely to cause dizziness and drowsiness.
  7. Stand up slowly from a seated or lying position.
  8. Wear rubber soled shoes to avoid slipping.
  9. Limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  10. Get enough sleep.

Interestingly, Ritalin may help prevent falls. In an encouraging breakthrough, Ben Gurion University researchers have found that a single dose of the drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, helps improve balance during walking reducing the risk of falls among seniors. While they admit the results may be due to the improved focus brought about by the medication, they also feel that Ritalin actually has a direct influence on parts of the brain that deal with motor and balance control.


Prevention is key.

Falls can be prevented and a good caregiver can minimize any negative long term effects if one does occur. The importance of caregivers being familiar with maintaining safe environments and routines for the elderly cannot be overstated. Many geriatric social workers and occupational therapists can help set up a safe living space for an elderly person. If you don’t know of one, a home healthcare agency should be able to refer one to you.


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Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Elderly Falls and Fractures from Sarcopenia: Diagnosis and Prevention

Muscle loss and aging typically go hand in hand. As people age, they naturally suffer a loss of physical muscle and mass. Weakened muscles and diminished strength are frequently the cause of elderly falls and fractures.

When muscles start to lose their overall form and function from aging, the disorder is referred to as sarcopenia. Researchers at the University of Southampton have found that between the ages of 40 and 80 the body suffers a significant decline in muscle mass of between 30 to 60 percent. Unsurprisingly, this loss in muscle and strength contributes to frailty and poor health in the elderly.

University of Southampton’s Professor Sian Robinson further states, “Poor diets and being physically inactive are common in older age. Understanding the benefits of maintaining sufficient levels of physical activity and diet quality to prevent sarcopenia is therefore a priority.”

elderly falls

Senior citizens who are experiencing a loss of muscle mass can curb that loss and prevent falls by getting more physical activity (such as low-impact water aerobics, lightweight strength training, or walking) and eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. Though this is not a cure-all approach to sarcopenia, it can certainly help slow the degeneration of muscle strength.

In addition, a clear fall assessment should be undertaken by healthcare professionals to determine an elderly person’s risk of falling. The International Working Group on Sarcopenia (IWGS) offers a definition of sarcopenia to help identify elderly individuals who may suffer from a fall or fracture due to muscle loss, according to the Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Medicine. The sarcopenia definition is based on assessing the person’s physical performance and muscle mass. Once an assessment has been made, physicians can focus treatment on preventing muscle loss and improving the strength of existing muscles, in order to prevent elderly falls from occurring.

At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and down. Our team of home healthcare providers can assist with everything from preparing healthy meals and helping maintain personal hygiene to providing safe escorting to appointments and ensuring upkeep of the home.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Preventing Falls in the Elderly

We are often so consumed with the symptoms and treatments of the diseases endemic to the elderly that we fail to see how a simple fall can have catastrophic effects. These falls can lead to disabling conditions, extended hospital stays and even death. To the elderly, commonplace activities like walking, shopping and socializing become dreaded events.  Their physical realities combined with their fears mean that the elderly come to view themselves as fragile which exacerbates their isolation and depression, all too common conditions among this group.

Ten things you can do to prevent falls include (The National Institute on Aging has a handy tip sheet):487709591

  • Regular exercise, especially those that work on balance like yoga and tai chi, can help steady the elderly adult. Weight-bearing exercises that slow bone loss and lower-body strengthening exercises are especially helpful.
  • Physical therapy may be useful for improving balance and walking confidence.  Your doctor or health care provider may be able to make that referral.
  • Stand up slowly from a seated or lying position.
  • Wear rubber soled shoes to avoid slipping.
  • Make regular eye and hearing check-ups to ensure they are fitted with glasses with the optimal prescription for clear vision.  Interestingly, even wearing bifocals while walking or on steps may blur the vision enough to cause falls.  Proper hearing can ensure no cues are missed.
  • Elder proofing a home taking elderly needs and deficits into account much as we do for babies is often neglected.  (See article below.)
  • Regular dizziness may indicate an underlying medical condition with respect to blood pressure, circulation, or sensory issues which should be checked out by a physician.
  • Have the doctor or pharmacist review all medications to identify those most likely to cause dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Get enough sleep.
    Source: National Institute on Aging: Go4Life: Preventing Falls

David York Home Healthcare Agency  provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in New York in their homes and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. At David York Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one.