If you or the person you are caring for is at risk of falling based on the questions in Step 1, the next step is to have a conversation with a balance & fall specialist. Use the button below to enter your Zip Code and find a specialist near you.
Use the checklist above to make notes and observations to begin a dialogue with your healthcare provider or the person you are caring for.Find A Fall Risk Specialist
This last step provides seven strategies you can take immediately to create a falls prevention action plan. Use the risks identified in Step 1 and the conversation notes in Step 2 to inform your action plan.
Determine if there is a reason to be concerned about falling. Many adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt — even if they’ve already fallen in the past. A good place to start is by having a conversation about it —that’s what this tool is intended to do. If there are concerns about falling, dizziness, or balance, it might be best to discuss with a health care provider who can further assess risk and suggest programs or services that could help.
Determine if you or the care recipient is experiencing any problems with managing your health. Has there been difficulty in remembering to take medications — or have there been side effects? Is it getting more difficult to do things that used to be easy?
Also make sure to take advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Speak openly with your health care provider about all concerns.
Get your vision checked annually. If you or the person you are caring for wears glasses, make sure the prescription is current and the glasses are as advised by the eye doctor.
Remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry or stop until the lenses adjust.
Bifocals can also be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious. Those struggling with low vision should consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight.
These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help improve balance, strength, and gait through exercise. They might also suggest a cane or walker—and provide guidance on how to use these aids. Make sure to follow their advice. Poorly fitted aids actually can increase the risk of falling.
If you or the person you are caring for is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy, discuss these concerns with a doctor and pharmacist. It may be best to have medications reviewed each time there is a new prescription. Keep a list of medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, so the list is easily accessible when visiting a doctor or pharmacist.
Most falls happen at home. There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For professional assistance, consult an occupational therapist. Here are some examples:
Many communities across the country offer falls prevention programs that have been proven to help people reduce their risk and fear of falling. Below are four common programs:
MATTER OF BALANCE For adults with moderate to high falls risk. The program emphasizes practical coping tactics to reduce fear of falling and teaches falls prevention strategies. Structured group intervention activities include group discussion, skill building, and exercise training that can be done sitting.
STEPPING ON For adults with moderate to high falls risk. The program offers strategies and exercises to reduce falls and increase self-confidence in making decisions and behavioral change in situations where older adults are at risk of falling. Participants should feel safe standing and walking independently before beginning this program.Learn More
TAI CHI For adults with lower falls risk. Tai Chi programs help adults improve mobility, balance, strength, flexibility, and psychological health. Prior to starting Tai Chi, the participant should be able to stand on one leg for 5 or more seconds and not be fearful of falling.Find A Tai Chi Center
STAY ACTIVE AND INDEPENDENT FOR LIFE For adults with lower falls risk. This physical activity program reduces falls risk factors by increasing strength and improving balance. Each class includes a warm-up, aerobics, balance activities, strengthening and stretching exercises that can be done seated or standing, and educational components.Learn More
WHERE TO FIND FALLS PREVENTION PROGRAMS