Injuries, Loss of Independence or Death Could Await Seniors Who Fall

Every second of every day an older adult (65+) suffers a fall in the United States. That’s according to the CDC. Not surprisingly, falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group.

According to a Penn State University study, deaths from falls by seniors has doubled in the past 20 years. In addition to wishing to avoid injury, seniors know a fall could lead to a long-term disability. And that means the loss of independence... something they prize as much as anything.

The coming crisis is going to be a huge challenge for even the most able-bodied person. For those who don’t get around as well as they used to, it will be even more of a struggle. And regardless of your age, if you are disabled when it happens, you’re going to need some help.

Today I want to talk about how serious this issue is. And then I’ll provide a dozen tips on how to avoid painful and debilitating falls.

Startling statistics

First of all, it’s imperative that we keep ourselves in the best possible physical condition.  Exercise and a healthy diet are important. Another essential strategy is avoiding injuries. Including those occurring through falls at home. 

For older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures and hospital admissions for trauma. Plus the loss of independence and injury deaths. 

One of three seniors will fall during this calendar year. But fewer than one-half will tell their doctors about it unless they’re seriously injured.

Here are more statistics from the CDC:

  • About 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year. They result in more than 32,000 deaths. 
  • Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury. 
  • More than 800,000 people are hospitalized due to a fall injury annually. Most often due to a head injury or hip fracture.
  • More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling. Usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • The direct medical costs for fall injuries, adjusted for inflation, are $34 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of that total.
  • One out of five falls for a person 65 or older causes a serious injury. Such as broken bones or a head injury. 
  • Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in a fall. 
  • At least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures every year.

Regardless of your age, you should establish a home environment where falls are less likely to occur.    

Common causes for falls

How and why do falls occur for seniors? Most often, fall-related injuries affect the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand or ankle. 

Although seniors can recover from most falls, many older adults who suffer hip injuries from falls end up requiring long-term care.

Many seniors feel dizzy after standing from a sitting position. Especially if they’ve been sitting for a while. This could mean a drop in blood pressure. Which makes individuals feel as if they are going to pass out.

It could also be due to the onset of diabetes. Or an issue with a medication or eyesight. That’s why it’s important that seniors report their falls – and near falls – to a doctor. Even if they are not injured.

More reasons for falls 

Sometimes a fall happens due to a loss of balance while walking. Or slipping on something they don’t see. 

Lower body weakness and a Vitamin D deficiency can also be contributing factors in a fall. Of course, home hazards are often to blame. Including uneven steps and clutter.  

Many seniors who have seen older friends and relatives fall develop a fear of falling. Despite having never fallen themselves.

It’s important to be cautious. But this fear can lead to avoiding the activities that help make seniors less prone to falling. Such as walking and engaging in other social interactions. This fear can be debilitating for them. 

12 ways to reduce the risk of falls

Many seniors are injured by falls. But it’s not an inevitable result of aging. Most falls suffered by seniors every year didn’t have to happen. 

Here are 12 ways you or your loved ones can decrease the odds of experiencing a fall in the home:

  • Do exercises to improve balance and strengthen muscles. Tai chi is a great method for accomplishing this. But ask your doctor for additional suggestions. 
  • Get rid of the clutter. An organized home free of boxes, stacks of magazines, and other items is a much safer environment for a senior. Especially in narrow hallways and on staircases.
  • Remove loose carpeting and slippery throw rugs. Especially if they are near staircases, as they are easy to trip on. Flatten any raised floorboards. 
  • Add handrails to stairs and hallways. As well as grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower. And next to the toilet. A local handyman should be able to handle this so that you don’t run into a big expense.
  • In addition to those grips, make sure mats in bathtubs and showers are non-slip. You can also place non-slip mats in other rooms and on porches. 
  • Make sure there is proper lighting in every room. Use higher-watt bulbs during waking hours. And keep a nightlight in any room a senior may frequent after waking up. Including bathrooms.
  • Keep an inexpensive, portable light at the far end of each stair on a staircase.
  • Have your eyes checked at least once a year. Ask your eye doctor if you should have different eyeglasses for walking outdoors than for indoor activities including reading.
  • Baggy clothes may be comfortable. But they can also catch on items when turning a corner. Or drag on the ground and be stepped on. Properly hemmed clothing is safer for seniors.
  • Many people take their shoes off in the comfort of their home. But it’s easier to slip when one is wearing only socks. You’re better off with bare feet than socks. But the first choice is shoes. They also help prevent stubbing injuries.
  • Keep a small emergency survival kit in each room. Including non-perishable snacks, a full water bottle, and a first-aid kit. This could hold you over if you do fall until help arrives. 
  • Take it easy. Seniors should remind themselves that they don’t need to rush anymore. After standing from a sitting position, take a moment to get adjusted. Then move slowly from one room to another. 

Many seniors are never the same again after they’ve experienced a fall resulting in injury. You owe it to yourself and older family members to do everything in your power to make sure that fall doesn’t happen. 


  • Jeanne M. Grier - March 07, 2024

    Good information. Of course with the weather changing now, there will be more occasion to work outdoors. I walk very cautiously and much more slowly outside on my property than I do inside the house. I am careful of the uneven ground as I walk and work, and I try to hold on to railings or the side of the house for stability. I always note potential problems such as any embedded branches, large stones, etc I could trip over. And I wear reliable, sturdy, flat, work shoes.

  • Susan Douglass - March 06, 2024

    Great information for the older adults. You have covered most of the areas which can result in falls. The only other information which might be helpful is some method of emergency alert if a fall occurs…whether it’s a device worn around their neck/wrist, a whistle or smart watch. Remaining independent is so important for seniors and I hope people listen to all of your suggestions. Good job!!

  • Gail - March 06, 2024

    Turning around to quickly can cause you to trip over your own feet! So turn around slowly and more carefully .

    Stay off of Ladders and step stools!

    Be careful of slippery surfaces such as wet floors especially tile and icy surfaces .

  • John S.Beekley - March 06, 2024

    I am in very good shape, considering my age (92) but am increasingly aware that one fall could be very damaging or even fatal. That’s NOT how I want to end it all!!! I appreciate what YOU are doiing and urge you to keep it up!!

  • Marilyn Wynne - March 06, 2024

    Great advice! After recovering from a fall and.broken arm, I’m very thankful to be able to walk and be independent. Especially important is to take your time and use lights.

  • Donna - March 06, 2024

    Please take this article seriously. I was stepping into my house during a bad thunderstorm when i slid on my snap in hardwood floor from Lowes. Next thing i knew , i was on the floor, left leg against the door, hitting my shoulder and head simultaneously. Long story short, i had shoulder surgery and after 8 weeks of physical therapy, i had to retire from the job i loved. Still on road to recovery, but one second in life changed my life.

  • Dan Gunther - March 06, 2024

    Thank you for this message. My mother died as a result of a fall, so the topic is of great interest, since I am now 65 years of age. I am in very good shape, but recognize I am much more aware that my balance is not what it was in my youth.

    I am saving your message and also sharing it with my wife as we do not want to become a statistic.

    Thanks again.
    Dan Gunther

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