Preventing Falls in the Elderly

Preventing Falls in the Elderly

July 3, 2024

Preventing Falls in the Elderly

A Complete Guide to Fall Prevention for Seniors

Falls among the elderly are all too common. In fact, one in four older adults fall every year. These falls can lead to serious injuries and are a top cause of hospital admissions. In the most severe cases, a slip-and-fall accident can lead to death. Falls have become so prevalent that Falls Prevention Week is celebrated the third week of September each year. With this information and statistics in mind, BrightStar Care is committed to educating our communities about home safety and fall prevention. Everyone should take preventative measures that minimize the risk of falls and improve overall safety. By working together and raising awareness, we can make a significant difference in the lives of our senior citizens. Learn more via our comprehensive guide to at-home fall prevention.

Preparing Your Home for Your Elderly Loved One

Senior safety is especially important no matter the time of year. Older loved ones may come to visit, and you'll need to prepare your home accordingly. As you gear up to have guests, consider taking these measures to make your home safe for all:


Decluttering is the easiest way to lessen risks around the home. Start with removing any unnecessary items scattered on the floor. These might be your kid's toys, a dog's bone, or an ottoman. If you believe it might be a tripping hazard, removing it will be your best bet.

Improve Lighting

Ensure adequate lighting throughout the house, especially in hallways, staircases, and bathrooms. As we age, our eyesight isn't what it once was, and seniors need brighter lights to avoid safety hazards. You might even consider adding motion sensor lights or night lights to make navigation easier, particularly during nighttime.

Add Low-Cost Safety Features

Elderly fall prevention tactics don't have to be expensive. There are numerous simple ways to make your home a little safer for the seniors in your life. You could do something as easy as removing area rugs or adding rubber-backed bathmats. If you don't mind a little elbow grease, you may choose to install a waterproof seat in the shower or add non-slip treads to stairs.

Make Accessible Modifications

If you plan to have senior visitors often, we recommend making more permanent safety changes in your home. Consider the accessibility of your space and your loved one's mobility needs. With this in mind, think about installing grab bars near the toilet or showers and invest in adhesive strips to add to the floor. We also suggest being intentional about room selection. If you have a bedroom on the main floor, have your loved one stay in that space to avoid going up and down stairs.

Safety Resources for Fall Prevention

Checking all the boxes of slip, trip, and fall prevention can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you are never alone in your efforts! The senior safety experts at BrightStar Care have plenty of resources to help you protect your loved ones from fall risks. Check out these information sources and initiatives:

Home Safety Checklist

Are you a linear thinker? If you need to have all the information laid out in front of you, we have a resource to meet your needs. Our home safety checklist accounts for general living areas, stairways, halls, kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms. This checklist gives you all the details distilled into an easy-to-use resource.

Guide to Preventing Falls in the Elderly

They say prevention is the best medicine, and they're certainly right! Thankfully, preventing falls in the elderly isn't as complicated as it may seem. This resource has tips for avoiding falls due to all sorts of common causes, from chronic conditions to unsafe home environments. Our local agencies can also be a big part of fall prevention. They can perform home safety assessments upon the start of care to identify any potential hazards.

What Are the Causes of Falls?

Avoiding a problem is difficult if you don't know what causes it. As such, elderly fall prevention becomes much more manageable when you understand why falls happen so often. Get familiar with these leading causes of falls in seniors:
  • Loss of Muscle Mass: Aging adults experience a loss of muscle mass that can lead to problems with weakness and balance.
  • Loss of Eyesight and Other Senses: Eyesight, hearing, and reflexes can all dull with age. When seniors can no longer see or react to their environment quickly, they're more likely to trip.
  • Chronic Conditions: Conditions including arthritis, diabetes, incontinence, Parkinson’s, dementia, cognitive issues, and stroke affect balance and increase fall risk.
    • Arthritis — This condition causes joint pain and stiffness, and as a result, decreased mobility and stability. People with arthritis, therefore, are more likely to lose their balance and fall.
    • Diabetes — Peripheral artery disease is a common condition caused by diabetes and can result in numbness, tingling, increased pain, and weakness in the hands and feet. These symptoms associated with diabetes can all lead to a fall accident.
    • Incontinence — Older folks who feel immediate, intense urges to use the toilet are more likely to get up too quickly or pay less attention to environmental hazards as they make their way to the bathroom.
    • Parkinson’s — The low blood pressure characteristic of Parkinson’s disease can lead to lightheadedness and an increased risk of falling.
    • Dementia and Cognitive Issues — People with dementia and similar cognitive issues are prone to pacing and impulsiveness. Combined with muscles that weaken naturally with age, these individuals are more likely to have a fall accident.
    • Stroke — A stroke can cause muscle fatigue, loss of balance, and difficulty walking, all of which might lead to a fall.
  • Medication Side Effects: Certain medications may come with side effects that increase the risk of a fall. Muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, pain medication, and antidepressants have all been associated with fall risks.
  • According to a study by the Yale School of Medicine cited by the New York Times' Paula Span, certain medications used to treat high blood pressure increase the risk of falls in people over 70. Researchers found that 9% of the 5,000 participants taking blood pressure medication received serious fall injuries, such as broken bones, brain injuries, and dislocated joints over three years.
  • Environmental Hazards: Environmental hazards are a leading cause of falls in seniors. Cluttered hallways, dark stairways, and uneven ground can all create problems for home safety.

Common Injuries Associated with Falls

In addition to understanding the causes of falls, it's also good practice to know the common injuries that can occur. When you're familiar with the types and severities of fall injuries, you're better prepared to deal with one should the worst happen. Here's what you need to know about fall injuries:
  • Broken Bones: Broken bones are among the most common injuries occurring from falls. Seniors can fracture bones in the hip, knee, wrist, arms and legs.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Falls can result in spinal cord injuries, many of which have lasting impacts on an individual's health. Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis and even death.
  • Head Injuries: Falls can lead to head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can range from mild to severe, and medical attention is immediately necessary.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: While not visible on the outside of the body, soft tissue damage can cause numerous complications. After a fall, most people don't even realize there's an injury until weeks later. Without proper treatment, these injuries lead to chronic pain and a higher risk for further injury.
  • Cuts and Lacerations: Even minor falls can leave seniors with deep cuts and abrasions. No matter the apparent severity of the injury, be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible.
  • Chronic Pain: Chronic pain can be the direct result of a fall. Pain can occur nearly anywhere in the body and continue for years, with or without treatment.

How to Help Your Loved One After a Fall

Even the most thorough elderly fall prevention measures don't work in every circumstance. Should your loved one have a slip-and-fall accident, it's important to know how to handle the recovery process. At BrightStar Care, we recommend taking the following actions in the hours, weeks, and months following the fall:
  • Seek Medical Attention: First, you should seek medical attention for your loved one immediately. Even if they appear unhurt, encourage them to see a doctor. If the fall seems severe, it may be best not to move your loved one and call for emergency services, especially if they have hit their head.
  • Show Your Support: Falls are scary, no matter the severity. Many people feel a sense of shame and frustration after a fall. Be sure to show support to your loved one during this emotional time. Your reassurance will go further than you think.
  • Have a Heart-to-Heart: Show your loved one that you will provide a compassionate space for them to express their feelings. Establishing open communication can help them be more open to receiving help from physical and mental health professionals.
  • Research Assistive Equipment: Some seniors may benefit from assistive equipment, such as walkers and canes. Approach conversations about assistive equipment with care, as many older folks may feel it's a threat to their independence.
  • Prioritize Home Safety: Senior safety is paramount, especially at home. After a fall, assess your loved one's living environment and identify hazards that may have contributed to the fall. Consider installing handrails, removing clutter, improving lighting, and making other helpful modifications.
  • Ask About Medications: It may be time to learn more about your loved one's medications. Certain drugs have side effects that may increase the chances of a fall.
  • Advocate for Their Health: Ensure your loved one receives appropriate medical attention and treatment. Be proactive in communicating with healthcare providers, asking questions, and advocating for their needs. Outside healthcare settings, you can advocate for your loved one's health by helping them stay active and maintain a nutritious diet.

How BrightStar Care Home Care Services Can Help

Fall prevention in the elderly takes careful planning and plenty of resources. Thankfully, BrightStar Care is here to help you keep your loved ones safe. We provide outstanding home care services to seniors who are prone to falls. Our services encompass a wide range of needs and can be tailored to your loved one's circumstances. Here's what our home care professionals have to offer:

Companion Care

Companion care aims to provide emotional support, companionship, and assistance with daily activities. Caregivers engage in meaningful conversations, participate in recreational activities, and accompany seniors on outings. Companion care professionals often participate in light daily activities, such as creating grocery lists and providing respite care for family caregivers. They play a vital role in reducing loneliness and promoting social interaction for seniors who may require extra support. Companionship can also help with fall prevention, as our caregivers can identify hazards before they become a problem.

Personal Care

Personal care focuses on promoting hygiene, grooming, and overall well-being. Trained caregivers assist with tasks such as bathing, dressing, oral care, and toileting. They ensure that seniors maintain cleanliness while respecting their dignity and privacy. Additionally, personal care providers help with mobility support, medication reminders, and monitoring vital signs. By providing compassionate and professional assistance, personal care services enable seniors to maintain their independence and avoid most falls.

In-Home Support

Home support for seniors is a valuable service that provides assistance and care within the comfort of home. These caregivers offer support with various daily activities and strive to improve overall quality of life. Home support professionals may assist with the following:
  • Light housekeeping
  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery shopping
  • Medication reminders

Outside Support

Some seniors require support outside the home, and our professionals can accommodate. We provide outside support, including transportation and assistance with doctor's appointments, to ensure older folks get the care they need. Our caregivers also help clients get to and from social gatherings and shopping centers.

Skilled Care

Skilled care is a specialized service that involves professional medical care to meet unique healthcare needs. This level of care includes administering medications and monitoring for side effects, managing chronic conditions, developing strategies to prevent falls, and assisting with rehabilitation and physical therapy. Skilled care services are provided by trained nurses and other specialists with proper medical credentials. BrightStar Care strives to educate families on how to make their homes safe for elderly loved ones, and our team is glad to provide the necessary support services. If you need help with fall prevention measures, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll help you introduce new safety precautions in your home.

Find a BrightStar Care® Location Near You

Looking for in-home care services or assisted living for your loved one or a reliable medical staffing partner for your organization? Our experienced local care team members are ready to help. Find a location near you, contact us online or call 866.618.7827 to speak with a local care expert and learn more about how BrightStar Care offers A Higher Standard®.