Lower Your Risk of Falling

The Basics
Your risk for a fall increases as you get older. You can make small changes to help prevent falls.

Take Action!
Do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.

Start Today: Small Steps


The Basics

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You can make small changes to help prevent falls. More than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. Falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around, and other health problems – especially if you are age 65 or older.

A fracture (broken bone) can cause pain and disability. It can also make it hard to do everyday activities without help, like cooking a meal or taking a shower. Broken hips can cause serious health problems – and even death.

The good news is there are lots of things you can do to lower your risk of falling. Take these steps:

Am I at risk of falling?

As people age, poor balance and weak muscles can lead to falls and fractures. Most falls happen when older adults are doing everyday activities, like walking.

Some older adults also have vision problems or medical conditions that can make a fall more likely. For example, diabetes can reduce feeling in your feet and a stroke can affect your balance. These conditions can make you more likely to fall.

You may be more likely to fall if you:

Use this checklist to find out if you are at risk for falling.

If you are worried about falling, talk to your doctor or nurse about how balance exercises and physical therapy can help.  Find out more about preventing falls and fractures.

Take Action!

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Many falls can be prevented. Follow these steps to lower your risk of falling.

Get active.

Staying active can help you feel better, improve your balance, and make your legs stronger.

Improve your balance.

Exercises that improve your balance can help prevent falls. For example, tai chi (“tie chee”) is a mind-body exercise that can help with balance.

Make your legs stronger.

Do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands (long, stretchy rubber strips).

There’s a lot your doctor can do to help keep you safe from falls. Talk with your doctor at least once a year about your risk of falling.

Talk with your doctor about using medicines safely.

Using medicines safely can help prevent falls. Some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and cause you to fall. 

Take all of your medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) to a doctor or pharmacist and ask if any of them could increase your risk of falling.

Print this list of other questions to ask your doctor or nurse about preventing falls.

Get your vision checked.

Your vision changes as you get older. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.

Get your eyes tested every 1 to 2 years to make sure you are wearing glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength. Be sure to update your glasses or contacts if your prescription has changed.

Get a bone density test.

If you are a woman age 65 or older, get a bone density test to measure how strong your bones are. If you are a woman age 64 or younger and you have gone through menopause, ask your doctor if you need a bone density test. If you have weak bones (osteoporosis), you can take steps to stop bone loss and lower your risk of fractures.

Help prevent falls at home.

About half of all falls happen inside the home. Take these steps to fix the dangerous areas in your home.

Make your home safer:

Use this checklist to make your home safer

Follow these safety tips:

Get enough calcium.

Getting enough calcium can help keep your bones strong and make them less likely to break. Check out this  shopping list of foods high in calcium.

Get plenty of sleep.

Getting enough sleep can help you be more alert so you are less likely to fall.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Alcohol can increase your risk of falling. Drinking alcohol only in moderation can help you stay safe and avoid injuries.

Are you worried about a loved one’s risk of falling?

If you are a caregiver, there’s a lot you can do to protect your loved ones from falling.

You can also use these tips to  start a conversation about preventing falls.

Start Today: Small Steps

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