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September 2023

Fall prevention: Don’t overlook these 7 risks

Chances are, you’ll need to think about a fall prevention plan at some point in your life. Maybe it’s when you turn 65 (as suggested by the CDC). Or maybe you’ll need a plan for someone else, such as an aging parent. Either way, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. 

Some fall risks are easy to identify, such as slippery bathroom floors, inadequate lighting, extension cords, and certain types of medications. Others, such as the seven listed below, may not be so obvious.

Senior man sitting on the sofa watching TV

1. Lack of Exercise 

This may sound counterintuitive, because sitting in a recliner is such a low-risk activity, but a sedentary lifestyle can actually increase your risk of falling due to the loss of agility, strength, balance, and coordination. These can all be improved dramatically with regular exercise. An active pastime such as pickleball, cycling or swimming might be a good fit for you. Or maybe a gym membership is your best option. If you need help getting started, we recommend consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. They are great resources for developing a suitable exercise program.

Woman grabs a slice of delivery pizza

2. An Unhealthy Diet

Exercise won’t do you much good if you’re not supplying your body with the fuel it needs for strong bones and muscle, such as calcium, vitamin D, and protein. A licensed dietary nutritionist is a great resource for developing a diet to suit your specific needs.

Small dog looking up

3. Pets

Cats and dogs would never intentionally harm their owners, but according to the CDC, they actually cause over 80,000 falls a year. Obedience training may be a consideration if a dog is prone to jump when excited or pull you off balance when leashed.

Man rearranging furniture

4. Furniture

When identifying various environmental hazards around the home, don’t overlook furniture. Among other things, you may want to change the layout of a room to create open spaces, remove furniture that slides or tips easily, anchor tall bookshelves or cabinets to the wall, and use contrasting colors between furniture and flooring. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of family or friends.

Person climbing step stool

5. Storage

Bending down or climbing a step stool can be dangerous as you get older. If you find yourself doing these things often to grab shoes, clothes, dishes, or other frequently-used items, it may be time to evaluate your storage situation. 

6. Toys

Grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) have a tendency to leave toys scattered around the house. A dedicated play area will keep these tripping hazards out of the way.

7. Risky behavior

If you catch yourself saying “I’ve been doing it for 40 years. Why change now?” and you’re referring to cleaning the gutters or Jell-O shots, you should probably think twice.


Check out these online resources for more information:

Older Adult Fall Prevention (CDC)

Guidelines for Preventing Falls (AAOS)

Q&A: Falls and fall prevention (Mayo Clinic)

Falling: Are You Or a Loved One At Risk? (Cleveland Clinic)

As always, consult with a trusted physician or advanced practitioner about a fall prevention plan.

The information on this blog should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations.

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