Family Living Focus: Fall risks for older adults

September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month

Activities that take place in the bathroom, such as showering and bathing, are a simple part of most peoples’ daily routine. Yet, slips in the tub and falls in the shower or from the toilet may cause serious injuries.


According to a study an estimated 234,000 people ages 15 and older were treated in U.S. emergency departments (ED) in 2008 for injuries that occurred in bathrooms. Four out of 5 of these injuries were caused by falls which can have especially serious consequences for older adults.

Almost one-third (30 percent) of adults aged 65 and above who were injured in bathrooms were diagnosed with fractures. Among adults aged 85 and older, 38 percent were hospitalized as a result of their injuries.

Steps for Safety in the Bathroom

Certain home safety measures may reduce the risk for all household members of being injured in the bathroom. Some prevention strategies include:

• Adding non-slip surfaces and grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower to reduce slips and falls.

• Installing grab bars next to the toilet for added support, if needed.

Preventing Falls Among Older Adults

Four out of five injuries that took place in bathrooms in 2008 were the result of falls. Falls can be especially dangerous for adults ages 65 and older.

Older adults can take steps to make falls less likely. If you are 65 or older, take the following steps to reduce your risk of falling:

Get some exercise: Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs, which increases the chance of falling. Exercise programs like Tai Chi can increase strength as well as improve balance, making falls less likely for aging adults

Be mindful of medications: Some medicines or combinations of medicines can have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falls more likely. Having a doctor or pharmacist review all your medications can help reduce the chance of risky side effects and drug interactions.

Keep your vision sharp: Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. To help make sure you’re seeing clearly, have your eyes checked every year and wear glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength.

Eliminate hazards at home: About half of all falls happen at home. A home safety check can help identify fall hazards, like clutter and poor lighting that should be removed or changed.


Information adapted from article by Center for Disease Control, Caregiver Newsletter, Thursday, October 3, 2013 – Issue #658.

If you would like more information on “Fall Risks for Older Adults” contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.