Falls Prevention for Older Adults

An energetic, senior couple jaunts thru the park

This website provides information about injuries associated with unintentional falls and best practices in fall prevention.

The Burden of Falls in Wisconsin 2010

Falls are a significant cause of injury in all ages of the U.S. population, but a particular burden in older persons. One-third of people over the age of 65 years will fall every year. In 2013, six percent of these falls were serious enough to require hospitalization. Falls may also lead to premature death. Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of death from unintentional falls in the nation. In fact, the death rate due to unintentional falls in Wisconsin is twice the national average. The good news is falls are preventable.

Fall Prevention Among Older Adults: An Action Plan for Wisconsin P-00548 (PDF)
National Council on Aging (NCOA) 2015 Falls Free National Action Plan

A key component, identified in the plan and supported by research and experience of experts in the field, highlights across-discipline collaboration at both the state and local levels. Momentum is strong in Wisconsin for success. Multiple communities have or are developing fall prevention or healthy aging coalitions. Further, a cadre of diverse partners helped develop this plan and it will take these and new partners to implement it.

Four main goals form the basis of the plan:

  1. Shape systems and policies to support fall prevention
  2. Increase public awareness about fall prevention
  3. Improve fall prevention where people live
  4. Improve fall prevention in healthcare settings

With adequate information and knowledge, falls can be prevented. Research shows that effective fall prevention programs have multiple components. Visit the sections below to obtain  more information.

Wisconsin Fall Prevention Program and Activities

Fall Prevention Initiative (FPI)

The mission of the Wisconsin Falls Prevention Initiative is to reduce falls and fall-related complications and deaths among Wisconsin's older adults through the integration of community based and medical prevention approaches. The Falls Prevention Initiative is comprised of health care practitioners, educators, researchers, organizations serving older adults, social service professionals, and staff members from the Divisions of Long Term Care and Public Health. The group is open to all that believe in the mission and want to help refine and achieve the goals:

  • Increase education of medical community, front-line staff, care managers, caregivers, and consumers
  • Promote continued and successful collaborations between social and medical disciplines that deliver health services and support
  • Identify and promote evidence-based activities and programming statewide

The FPI teleconference is held the second Thursday of every odd month from 1:30-3:30 p..m. For more information, you can contact Molly Zemke with the Injury Prevention Program.

Fall Prevention Survey

In late summer-early fall 2010, the Department of Health Services and the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin conducted a survey focused on fall prevention activities. At least one person from 70 of Wisconsin's 72 counties responded to the survey -- a total of 153 participants. The full report can be found below.

Fall Prevention Survey - Full Report (PDF)

Stepping On

Stepping On is a seven‐week workshop that is proven to reduce falls. Workshops are offered throughout Wisconsin, facilitated by trained leaders, and provide a safe and positive learning experience. The focus is on improving balance and strength, home and environmental safety, vision, and a medication review. Research shows that participants of Stepping On have a 31% reduced risk of falls

Fall Prevention Resources

Information for Consumers and Caregivers

Falls are often considered a routine part of aging. The following links provide information on how to prevent falls from happening to you or your loved ones.

Contact information for your local aging office.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Search library for latest information on falls and fall prevention

American Geriatrics Society

Public Health Agency of Canada

The Safe Living Guide: A Guide to Home Safety for Seniors 

Mayo Clinic

Fall Prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls 

National Institute on Aging

Falls and Older Adults 

Information for Community-Based Organizations

Community providers offer valuable resources to older adults who are at risk of or have already suffered a fall. The following links provide information on the problem of older adult falls, how to make living environments safer, and how to implement fall prevention programs in your community.

For contact information for your local aging office, visit the DHS County and Tribal Aging Offices webpage. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Council on Aging

Falls Prevention

American Physical Therapy Association

Patient Care

American Occupational Therapy Association


Information for Health Care Providers

Health care providers offer trusted advice and care plans to their patients. For older adults, these should include assessments of fall risk and strategies to prevent falls. The following links provide information on the problem of older adult falls and how you can assist in reducing the problem of older adult falls.

Older adults may need specialized medical services and health information. The National Institute on Aging at NIH published a new version of Talking With Your Older Patient, A Clinician’s Handbook. This handbook offers guidance for communicating with older adults in a way that promotes respect, understanding, and treatment adherence, while making efficient use of clinicians’ time.

You can also contact your county or tribal aging office.

Fall Prevention Awareness Day

Fall Prevention Month Proclamation

The 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day was observed on September 22, 2017. This occasion raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults.

Last Revised: July 6, 2018