Prevent Falls in Older Adults
We all play a role in helping older adults stay healthy. This site will provide information to help reduce the risk of falls in older adults.
Use the tips on this page to take steps to reduce your risks of falling so you can remain independent and healthy longer.
1 in 3 older adults fall at least once a year
Most indoor falls occur in the bedroom and bathroom
Stay safe! Consider these home safety tips to keep your home safe and free of hazards
- Maintain adequate lighting
- Remove or secure obstacles such as loose carpets, cords, and clutter
- Take your time on stairs and hold the handrail
- Install grab bars in the bathroom; use a non-slip bath mat in the tub/shower
- Use assistive devices as instructed e.g. cane, walker
- Watch out for pets underfoot
- Keep a phone within reach
- Be aware that long robes, trousers and night gowns as these can cause trips and falls
- Wear safe and proper both indoors and outdoors
- Consider a personal alarm or “buddy system”
Learn more about safe living including indoor and outdoor home safety checklists, information on safety aides and adapting your home:
Have regular medication, vision and hearing check-ups
With early detection and with the help of your health care provider, you can take positive steps to improve health.
Eyesight and Hearing
Your eyes change as you get older. Many changes to vision happen so slowly that you many not notice you have a problem.
- Have regular vision and hearing checks; eyes should be checked every 1-2 years
- See your Doctor if you experience blurred vision, flashes or light, watery eyes, changes in judging depth, or difficulty hearing
- Wear glasses and hearing aids as prescribed; clean glasses daily
- Remove reading glasses when walking
- Take your time – you can extend the number of rings on your phone, giving you more time to answer it
Medications are a frequent cause of falls. As we age, medications are broken down more slowly by the kidneys and liver. This means the more you take, the greater the risk.
- Regularly review all medications with your pharmacist; include products such as vitamins, herbal medications and pain killers
- Use medications as directed
- Know the name of each medication you take, the purpose, the side effects, the interactions with other medications, how long the medication needs to be taken, and if a refill is needed
- Store medications in a cool, dry area, and where you will remember to take them
- Keep medications out of reach of children and pets
MedsCheck is a free appointment with a pharmacist to review your medications.
Alcohol does not mix with some medications. Talk to a health care provider about safe alcohol use. See Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for more information.
Interested in learning more about fracture risk? Go to Osteoporosis Canada to find out.
Visit Heart and Stroke Foundation to learn the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure to prevent falls.
It is never too late to start – no matter what your age!
Physical activity is one of the most important choices you can make to improve balance, strength, flexibility, and endurance to stay healthy
Regular physical activity provides many health benefits:
- Improves mood, energy and self-esteem
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight
- Improves sleep
- Keeps muscles, bones and joints strong
- Helps you to move with fewer aches and pains so you can continue to live independently
Concerned about a chronic health condition before increasing activity?
- Check with your health care provider
- Even if you have heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, regular physical activity is important
- Make a plan that includes the types and amounts of activities that are right for you
- Choose to be as active as you are able. Every bit helps!
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines can help with planning your activities. Follow the guideline based on age group.
1. Take part in 2 ½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity every week
- Choose fun activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming, dancing, cross-country skiing, sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis
- Do activities with enough intensity to increase your breathing and heart rate at least a bit; this helps your heart and lungs to stay healthy too
- To get the most health benefits, aerobic activity should be done in sessions of 10 minutes or more at a time
2. Do muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 2 days every week
- Work all your major muscle groups to keep them strong – shoulders, arms, abdomen, back , hips and legs e.g. carry groceries, work with resistance bands, lift small weights, do wall or floor push-ups
3. Include activities to improve balance
- Activities that promote balance help to lower your risk of falling; in addition to strengthening muscles, they improve your coordination e.g. Tai Chi, dancing
If you have not been active, start with activities that can easily be built into a daily routine. If unsure, always check with a health care provider first.
Tips to get started:
- Make being active fun and enjoyable
- Plan a variety of activities to keep it interesting
- Invite family or friends to join you
- Start slowly, do what you can, increase activity gradually and listen to your body
- Make small goals and track your progress – celebrate successes
- Dress for the weather; wear comfortable shoes with good support and non-slip tread
- Keep hydrated – drink water before, during and after being active
For more physical activity tips for older adults, go to Public Health Agency of Canada
Access information about community centres and services such as foot care by calling 2-1-1 or visiting 211 Ontario
Call 3-1-1 to access local government programs and services.
- Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation – Get Active: 60 Plus Programming
- Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation – Gentle Fit classes
- Toronto Public Health – Walking
Caring for feet
- Healthy, pain-free feet allow you to be physically active and help with balance
- Keep your feet clean and dry; use cream to prevent cracks
- Some health conditions affect an older adult’s feet e.g. diabetes; consult a health care professional for foot care
- Call 2-1-1 to find local services
With age, our body changes.
Regular healthy meals and snacks help maintain health and energy levels.
When you feel physically stronger, you are less likely to lose your balance and fall.
There are many factors that can affect older adults’ eating habits such as:
- Cooking for one
- Ability to shop
- Budgeting for food
- Special diets e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure
- Dental health
- Coping with pain
Following Canada’s Food Guide will help you maintain energy levels and prevent chronic illness and disease.
Eat foods from all four food groups so you get the important nutrients you need. These include: vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. Canada’s Food Guide provides information on the amount of food you need, based on your age and gender for all four food groups.
The need for vitamin D increases after age 50. Consult with your health care provider to discuss whether you are getting enough.
Adequate fluid intake is important for your health. Unless otherwise directed, drink 6-8 cups (8 oz.) of fluid every day. At least half of this should be water.
Tips on healthy eating
- Toronto Public Health – Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
- Toronto Public Health – Diabetes Prevention
- Eat Right Ontario (1-877-510-5102)
For more information or to ask about our resources, call 416-338-7600 to speak to a Public Health Nurse.