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Fall Prevention and Preparedness: Myths, Facts, and Strategies

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

I was inspired to write this post after two family members fell within the space of one week. Both are fit, spry, older adults who don't really have balance issues. But anyone can slip at any time and any place. And that's why we need to be prepared.


First, let's get a few myths out of the way.


Myth: If I limit my activity, I won't fall.

Fact: If you limit your activity, you will decrease muscle strength, flexibility, and joint mobility, which all contribute to a higher likelihood of falling because you no longer have the strength and power to catch yourself if you begin to fall.


Myth: If I stay home, I can avoid falling.

Fact: Potential hazards are also present in your home (rugs, pets, slippery floors). The majority of falls occur at home because that's where we spend most of our time. Falls are more likely to occur when we're unfocused, distracted, or haven't slept well.


Myth: Muscle strength, flexibility, and balance cannot be regained.

Fact: Tell that to Joan McDonald, who didn't start training until a health scare at age 70. Now, at 76, she has completely turned her life and health around and even competes in weightlifting competitions. And, she's not the only one. (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-21/body-building-women-in-their-40s/12073146)


Myth: Taking medications doesn't increase my risk for falling.

Fact: Some medications will affect balance because they cause dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, or hypotension. These side effects can be temporary or more permanent. Review this CDC Fact Sheet for more information.


As many older adults know, falls are a leading cause of injury and death. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people over the age of 65. Fall prevention training is essential for helping to reduce the risk of falls. According to the US Preventative Services Task Force Report published in JAMA (2018), an exercise program focusing on increasing muscle strength, flexibility and balance is the most important component in fall prevention, showing an 11% reduction in falls occurrence. Accumulation of 50 hours of exercise is all it takes to reduce the OCCURRENCE of falls, but it only takes 2 weeks to reduce your RISK of falling. An exercise program that helps to increase muscular strength and power can give us the speed and agility to react in the moment and catch ourselves before we hit the ground. However, fall prevention training should not just focus on avoiding falls - it should also focus on fall preparedness.


Fall preparedness is the ability to react quickly and safely in the event of a fall. There are a number of things that can be done to improve fall preparedness. During my fall prevention and preparedness programs, I teach my clients how to:

  • Fall safely by learning how to land on your side or back, and how to protect your head and neck.

  • Get up after a fall by using your arms and legs to push yourself up, and how to get into a safe position.

  • Check yourself for injuries, and how to call for help if necessary.

By teaching people how to fall safely, how to get up after a fall, and how to prevent further injury, we can help to reduce the number of fall-related injuries and deaths.

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