Skip to main content

The facts about falling

The first day of Fall is also is Falls Prevention Awareness Day! Although you may think that falling is minor, the fact is that falls can cause serious injuries and death, especially among the elderly. So, it’s important to know the facts about fall-related injuries and tips to prevent falling.

Did you know?

More than one out of four people over the age of 65 will fall each year. In fact, falls are the number one cause of injuries and death from injury for older Americans. But only half of the people over 65 who fall tell their doctor,  according to the CDC. The CDC also says falls account for 3 million emergency department visits, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 28,000 deaths every year.

Fall prevention tips

Although falling may seem like a natural part of aging, there are ways to prevent falls.

It’s important for you to know these fall prevention strategies and have a plan in case you do fall

Talk to your doctor! Let your doctor know if you

  • Have fallen, worry about falling, or have trouble balancing.
  • Experience any dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness from the medications you are taking.
  • Take the “Stay Independent Assessment (PDF)” to assess your risk for falling. Talk to your doctor if you score 4 points or more.


  • Doing exercises to improve your balance and strengthen your legs helps to lower your risk of falling. If you have fallen recently, talk with your provider before starting an exercise routine.
  • For most people, walking on a level well-paved surface is a good activity to start. You can also ask your doctor about incorporating exercises like Ti-Chi into your routine.

Have your eyes and feet checked

  • Have your vision and feet checked once a year.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a condition, such as glaucoma or cataracts, which limits your vision and increases your risk of falling.

Home safety

  • Declutter your home and remove items that you can easily trip over such as shoes, books, paper, etc.
  • Make sure your rugs have non-slip padding or use double sided tape to keep your rugs from sliding.
  • Place non-slip mats in your bathtub and on your bathroom floors.
  • Have grab bars next to and inside of the tub and next to the toilet.
  • Make sure that you have sturdy banisters along your staircases.
  • Make sure your home is well lit.

What to do if you fall

One out of five falls do cause serious injuries such as broken bones or head injuries. If you experience a fall, please let your doctor know as soon as possible. Falling once can increase your risk for falling again. Let your doctor know if you feel dizzy, unsteady, or have trouble keeping your balance.

Please talk to your doctor and loved ones about what to do if you do fall.

If you fall at home

  • Don’t panic. Take a moment to collect yourself.
  • Decide if you want to try to get up or not.

If you try to get up

  • Use strong, stable furniture to support you as you get up.
  • Rest. Take time to recover from your fall after getting up.
  • Tell someone as soon as possible that you fell (doctor, family member, friend).
  • Get medical attention if necessary (especially if you have fallen before and/or have osteoporosis).

If you cannot get up

Crawl or slide to get help if you can. Try to reach one of the following:

  • Phone (your house or landline or a cell phone)
  • Personal alarm device
  • Something to make a loud noise

Once you’ve alerted someone to the fact that you’ve fallen and need help, wait until help arrives. Try to keep as warm and comfortable as possible. Then seek medical attention.

Learn more

For information on fall prevention, visit the National Institute on Aging  or the National Falls Prevention Resource Center.

Larry Wu, MD
Larry Wu, MD

Regional Medical Director

Larry is a regional medical director for Blue Cross NC providing consultative services for employee health solutions, prevention, chronic disease, care management, medical expense and utilization management. He's a family physician with over 20 years in clinical practice, has served as clinic director in the Indian Health Service, Kaiser Permanente and Duke Family Medicine and currently maintains a part-time clinical practice.

Browse related articles

4 ways to keep healthy during the holidays

If you start small now, you’ll set yourself up for success in the new year and beyond.

3 winter vaccines to keep you healthy

The arrival of cooler temperatures brings an unwelcome sign of the changing season: surging respiratory viruses.

Step up your wellness with a walk

Fall is a great time to get outside and go for a walk.