Senior Safety & Fall Prevention
Fall Prevention for Older Adults
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among adults ages 65 years and older. In addition to deaths and injuries, as well as the costs associated with them, falls can have many negative consequences for older adults, including:
- Fear of falling again
- Forced relocation from the home
- Loss of independence
- Stress in the family
By reducing their chance of a fall, older adults can stay independent and have an increased quality of life.
If you or a loved one has concerns about fall risks due to age or disability, we hope the following resources and information can help you ease those concerns and greatly reduce the risk of falls in your home.
Preventing Falls Among Older Adults
There are many reasons why an older adult might fall, including a variety of biological, behavioral, and environmental factors. These risk factors include:
- A previous fall
- Chronic health conditions (e.g., arthritis, stroke)
- Conditions in the home (e.g., slippery floors, loose rugs, cords on the floor, poor lighting)
- Fear of falling
- Medicines (including interaction effects)
- Mobility problems (e.g., muscle weakness, balance)
- Poor nutrition (leading to weakness, dizziness, fainting)
- Poor vision or hearing
Older adults who have one or more of these conditions may have a higher risk of falling. The following practices are recommended for older adults to reduce their chances of falling and help them stay independent:
- Exercising regularly (especially leg strengthening and improving balance)
- Having an eye doctor check their vision at least once a year
- Making their home environment safer
- Reviewing their medicines with a doctor or pharmacist
Interventions & Assistance Programs
There are evidence-based interventions for older adults, including programs designed specifically to prevent falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources available for providers interested in these interventions, including a compendium of evidence based fall interventions and a guide on developing community based falls prevention programs. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) also has information about evidence based programs. A few of the interventions being conducted in Santa Cruz County include:
- No More Falls Home Checklist – request a brochure with a step-by-step checklist of fall hazards to look for in your home, via our Administrative Office, at (831) 479-6842 .
- Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties provides “A Matter of Balance” fall prevention workshops monthly.
- The Home Help Program (HHP) pairs seniors in need of home maintenance and upkeep with vetted providers. Call 831-462-4734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- AARP HomeFit Guide – Download publication featuring smart ways to make a home comfortable, safe and a great fit for older adults (available in 5 languages).
- Elderday Program (through Community Bridges): Offers programs to elderly residents including yoga, art, Music & Memory, independent living assistance and other activities.
- Santa Cruz County Sheriff's "You Are Not Alone" Program (YANA): Offers phone calls to homebound seniors and those with disabilities to promote peace of mind and sense of confidence when living alone.
You can also research additional helpful programs and services for seniors through the California Department of Aging (CDA) website.