Reduce the Risk of Falling

Falls threaten the health, well-being and independence of older people. Here are some tips to share with elderly family or friends regarding how to reduce the risk of falling.

General Safety

  • When moving from lying down to standing, sit up first and stay sitting a moment or two. Then stand up slowly and stand a few seconds before trying to walk.
  • When you first wake up, sit on the edge of the bed and make sure you are not dizzy before you get out of bed.
  • Use a cane or walker if you are unsteady. Promptly replace worn rubber tips of these devices.
  • Be careful around pets. They can get in front of your feet or jump on you.
  • Eat breakfast every morning. Skipping a meal could make you dizzy.
  • Wear clothes that fit properly. You can trip on a coat, pair of pants or bathrobe that is too long.
  • Don't leave clothes or newspapers on the floor.
  • Close cabinet drawers so you won't stumble over them.
  • If you are not close to the telephone when it rings, don't rush to it. Fast, sudden moves could throw you off balance.
  • Make sure you have access to a telephone that you can reach to call for help if you fall. Consider carrying a portable phone.


  • Never grab a towel rack, shampoo holder or soap tray for support in the shower. These will not hold a person's weight.
  • Let the soap suds go down the drain before you move around in the shower. Do not turn suddenly.
  • If you are prone to falling, use a shower chair and a handheld shower attachment.
  • Clean up puddles of water immediately.
  • Do not lock the bathroom door. That will delay help in reaching you.
  • Arrange clothes in your closet so they are easy to reach.
  • Replace satiny sheets and comforters with products made of nonslippery material, i.e., cotton, wool.


  • Never carry any package that will obstruct your view of the next step.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handrail.
  • Concentrate on what you are doing. Don't be distracted by sounds.


  • Wear glasses if you need them, but remove reading glasses before you walk.
  • Have your eyes checked regularly. Do not put off getting new glasses.
  • Use 100-watt bulbs, as light takes longer to reach the back of your eye where you sense color motion. Note: Only use higher watt bulbs if they do not exceed the warning on your lamps or fixtures to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Keep flashlights handy in event of a power outage.

Medication Side Effects

  • Feeling weak or dizzy can be a possible side effect of many medications and can increase the risk of falls. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about side effects caused by your medications, and read the information about side effects that comes with each of your prescriptions.

Sensible Shoes

  • Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes since your size can change.
  • Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles.
  • Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied.
  • Select footwear with fabric fasteners if you have trouble tying laces.
  • Use a long-handled shoehorn if you have trouble putting on shoes.
  • Shop in the men's department if you're a woman who can't find wide enough shoes.
  • Always keep your toenails well trimmed.
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