Are You Likely To Fall? Myths and Tips About Fall Risk for Older Adults


Accidental falls are the leading cause of injury death for adults 65 and older. A single fall can also send you from active and chasing the grandchildren around to needing to use a wheelchair. Preventing falls is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay healthy and active and enjoy a longer life. Unfortunately, a lot of older adults believe dangerous myths about falls.

Let’s learn about these myths and how they can hold you back from your best life.

Myth 1: Other People Fall – Not Me

People think a lot of things will only happen to other people, and falling is one of those. Every year, though, one in four older adults fall. Older people are more likely to be hurt when they fall due to lower bone density and overall frailty.

You can fall at any time and for any reason…from momentary dizziness due to a health condition to simply stepping back off a step because you misjudged distance. Just like young, active people should wear a helmet when cycling, older people should wear a medical alert device with fall detection that can call for help if they fall.

Myth 2: Everyone Over A Certain Age Will Fall, There’s Nothing I Can Do To Stop It

At the other extreme is the conviction that falling, sooner or later, is inevitable. These feelings are often triggered by witnessing falls experienced by older relative when you are younger. Falling can appear to be normal aging.

Fortunately, it isn’t. There are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of falls. Active older adults are less likely to fall because they maintain strength and balance. Some medication can increase the risk of falls and you should be aware of that. At the same time, taking all of your meds can also reduce the risk of a fall.

One key risk factor is failing vision. Vision loss becomes more common as we age, and is associated with increased fall risk; people with vision problems are twice as likely to fall. Keep your eyeglasses up to date and look into programs and assistive devices. Cataracts are treated with surgery, but the surgery is very routine and seldom has complications. If you have diabetes, keep it as well managed as you can to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Myth 3: As Long As I Stay Home, I Can Avoid Falling

Over half of all falls take place at home. Your home and yard may have trip hazards that you haven’t noticed, such as a loose area rug or stray electronic cables. Older people should get their home inspected for fall risks. This is something family members can help with. Kids may notice things missed by adults.

Make sure your home is well lit. Consider adding lighting strips in stairwells and solar lights outside…many falls happen in the yard or garden. Make sure all rooms in your home are well lit. Install hand rails on stairs and in the shower. Even a couple of stairs can become a hazard. Throw rugs should be secured with non-slip grips, especially if they are on hardwood.

Older people should avoid being barefoot, but should wear proper shoes even indoors. If you don’t want to track in mud, purchase house shoes that are never used outside.

Reduce clutter as much as possible and add no-slip paint to outdoor steps.

Use a medical device with a fall alert to inform your family if you do have a fall so they can get there or send somebody there quickly.

Myth 4: I Don’t Need To Talk To Anyone About My Risk of Falling

We get it. You’re worried that people will be alarmed or start making noises about steps that take away independence. In fact, talking about your risk of falling empowers people to help you keep your independence. Your doctor can help, perhaps by adjusting the dosage of medication that causes balance issues, or the time you take it.

Your family can help you fall proof your home and can be aware you might need assistance when out and about with them. Let people help you, rather than trying to hide a problem. Fall prevention is a team effort. 

Myth 5: I Don’t Need To Talk To An Older Relative About Their Risk of Falling

You might be worried about hurting their feelings or causing conflict. Truth is, they might well be relieved to have it brought up, especially if your goal is to help them maintain their independence.

You can help by getting them to the eye doctor to deal with any vision concerns and by helping them declutter their home and remove hazards. There might also be a fall prevention program in your community you can contact. These evidence-based programs help older adults improve their balance, strength, and fitness to reduce the risk of falls.

Myth 6: Medical Alert Devices Will Detect All Falls

A medical alert device with fall detection can help a lot, but you need to understand the technology has limitations. No fall detection device can detect 100% of falls! If they could, they would be too sensitive, and you would have a lot of false alarms.