Fall Prevention in Older Adults

More than one in four adults (age 65 & older) fall each year — a leading cause of fatal & nonfatal injuries among older adults.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week 2023

Did you know that falling is NOT a normal part of aging?

Falls among older adults continue to be a national public health concern. On September 18-22, various organizations including the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Falls Free Initiative will be recognizing Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

State coalitions and partners will raise awareness on preventing falls, reducing the risk of falls, and helping older adults live without fear of falling.

Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among older adults can be substantially reduced.

Source: NCOA

From awareness to action, here’s how you can make a difference:

Many people think falling is common as they age. The truth is, older adults can improve balance and strength. Taking action to address the risk of falling is an important way to stay healthy and independent as long as possible. Falls prevention activities are beneficial to everyone across the lifespan, and they can be fun!



Many older adults choose to continue living at home as they age. However, their homes may not be as functional as they once were. In fact, over half of all falls take place at home. With a few modifications, however, you can make your home a safe and comfortable place to age in place, independently, and reduce the risk of falling.

Five quick & easy home modifications you can make on your own:

  1. Secure some support: Buy a shower seat, grab bar, and adjustable-height handheld shower head to make bathing easier and safer.
  2. Light it up: Replace burnt-out bulbs with bright, non-glare lightbulbs.
  3. Have a seat: Place a sturdy chair in your bedroom so you can sit while getting dressed.
  4. Clear the way: Keep items off the stairs and fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter and throw rugs.
  5. Store for success: Keep frequently used items between your waist and shoulder height.

Download the infographic


  • Fall Prevention In-Person “Mini Events” at Burien Community CenterSeptember 14 (Spanish) and September 21 (English)
  • Vibrant Living Health Fair at Northshore Senior Center, Bothell: September 19 10:00a-1:00p
    • Health Screenings and more!
  • Fall Prevention Day at SnoValley Senior Center, Carnation: September 20th 8:45a- 2:45p 
    • Start your day with EnhanceFitness class and learn about fall risks and ways to lessen risk including balance and hearing assessments, chair yoga and a decluttering workshop! This is a free event, including lunch! Register Here >>
  • Fall Prevention Week Age Friendly Seattle/Presentation and Q&A with KCFPC Interprofessional Panel (Live/Livestream): September 26, 10:30 -11:45p

Source: King County Fall Prevention Coalition – Sound Generations

What types of brain injuries can occur from a fall?

  • Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also known as a concussion. Concussions are caused when the brain receives trauma from an impact or a sudden momentum or movement change. Concussions can cause the person to have dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, and nausea, among other symptoms.
  • Contusion. A bruise on the brain caused by something striking the head, which can cause bleeding and swelling in the brain.
  • Penetrating injuryalso known as an open head injury. Occurs from the impact of a sharp object that forces hair, skin, bone, and fragments from the object into the brain.
  • Closed head injury. Occurs when an outside force hits the head without any penetration of the skull. The force of the injury often causes the brain to swell. Since the brain has nowhere to expand, it can lead to increased pressure within the skull. As the brain swells, it may expand through any available opening in the skull, leading to medical complications.

Source: Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)

Facts on Falls

  • Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries among older adults aged 65 and older.
  • One out of ten falls causes a serious injury, such as a hip fracture or head injury, which requires hospitalization.
  • Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls can be deadly

Each year, at least 25,000 older adults die as a result of falls. And the rate of fall-related deaths among older adults in the U.S. has been rising steadily over the past decade.

It is important for older adults to understand their risk of falling. NCOA’s Falls Free CheckUp is a digital assessment where older adults can answer 13 simple questions to get their falls risk score and steps to reduce their risk. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC); National Council on Aging (NCOA)

Fall Risk Factors

A fall risk factor is something that increases a person’s chances of falling. This may be a biological characteristic, a behavior, or an aspect of the environment. These risk factors include:

Biological risk factors

  • Muscle weakness or balance problems
  • Medication side effects and/or interactions
  • Chronic health conditions such as arthritis and stroke
  • Vision changes and vision loss
  • Loss of sensation in feet

Behavioral risk factors

  • Inactivity
  • Risky behaviors such as standing on a chair in place of a step stool
  • Alcohol use

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Clutter and tripping hazards
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of stair railings
  • Lack of grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower
  • Poorly designed public spaces

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Check Your Risk

Use this checklist to check your risk for falling:

Stay Independent

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Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) produced in collaboration with VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VA), Geriatric Research Education & Clinical Center (GRECC), and the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence.


Check for Safety at Home

Use this checklist to safeguard your home, or to help a friend or family member safeguard their home for fall prevention:

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) produced with support from the MetLife Foundation.

6 Steps to Prevent a Fall

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Many falls are preventable! Take control of your health today – follow these six steps to prevent falls and injuries from occurring:

6 Steps to Prevent a Fall

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(Download the infographic)

Source: National Council on Aging (NCOA)


Talk to your doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.

Get your eyes checked

  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
  • If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.

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.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.


As a caregiver, you can encourage your loved ones to take action to reduce their fall risk.

  • Initiate a conversation with your loved one and their healthcare provider about fall risk and prevention.


The EnhanceFitness program is a low-cost, evidence-based group exercise and falls prevention program. The program strives to help older adults at all levels of fitness become more active, energized, and empowered to sustain independent lives. The EnhanceFitness program also may help reduce risk factors associated with falls.

To learn more about EnhanceFitness or find a free/low-cost class near you, visit: projectenhance.org


Local, state, and national resources are FREE and readily available to help! Check out these resources and share with your network:


Falls Prevention Week 2023 – (PDF



Falls Prevention Week 2023 – (PNG) | (JPG)

Falls Can Be Prevented – (PNG) | (JPG)

Kushang Patel, PhD, MPH HIPRC Research Core Director, UW Research Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and UW Adjunct, Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine – (PNG) | (JPG)