Preventing Falls

Falls are the most common accidents that older people have. Although falls aren’t a normal part of the aging process, as people age they may have medical conditions or be on medicines that may increase their risk of having a fall.

Falls can cause injuries affecting lifestyle and independence, but they can be prevented. To reduce your risk of having a fall, be aware of possible causes or risk factors and avoid or modify them if you can.

There are different things that can increase your chances of falling:


Some medicines can make you:

  • Drowsy or tired.
  • Dizzy, lightheaded or faint.
  • Unsteady on your feet.
  • Have blurred or double vision.
  • Confused, not able to think clearly

The risk of you having a fall may be greater:

  • When you start using a new medicine.
  • If you take more than the prescribed dose of your medicine.
  • If you take two (or more) medicines from the groups listed in the table below:

Medicines (both prescription and non-prescription) for treating many conditions may increase your risk of having a fall. Ask your doctor if the medicine(s) you’re taking could put you at risk of having a fall.

Medical Conditions

Falls may be a sign of an undiagnosed medical condition or disease. Always report your fall to your doctor promptly and ask them to check for injuries. 

Physical factors 

  • Poor balance
  • Poor vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inactivity
  • Dizziness
  • Limited neck movements

Footwear that is unstable or provides poor support.

Environmental factors

Your home may also have possible hazards, for example:

  • Loose mats
  • Uneven paving or walkways
  • Slippery surfaces e.g. bath/shower, wet floors
  • No handrails on stairs

Poor lighting.

Time of day

More falls happen in the evening and at night, due to tiredness and decreased light. 



  • Keep an ongoing record of all your medicines and medical conditions. This helps your doctor to choose medicines that won’t increase your risk of having a fall.
  • Read the label on all medicines you take. Check with your pharmacist whenever your medicines have the following labels:
This medicine may cause dizziness especially if you stand up quickly. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. 


This medicine may affect mental alertness and/or coordination. If affected, do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery.
  • If your medicine can put you at risk of falling, ask if there is an alternative.
  • Ask your doctor for advice on how to lessen your medicine’s side effects.
  • Talk to your doctor before mixing alcohol and your medicines.
  • Start new medicines on weekends or when other people are around.

Don’t use other people’s medicine—it has been prescribed for them and could have a different effect on you, possibly causing you to fall.

Other factors

  • A physiotherapist and occupational therapist can:
    • assess your muscle strength and balance skills
    • improve your flexibility
    • help you become more active
    • help you to make your home “fall-proof”.
  • A podiatrist can advise you on footwear that provides good support and balance when walking.
  • Take extra care when you get out of bed during the night or first thing in the morning. Sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before getting up
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