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Falls Prevention for Older Adults

Learn about injuries associated with unintentional falls and best practices in fall prevention.

Person helps a person with walker outside
Falls are a major 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) Get the Facts on Falls Prevention

A key part of the plan linked above (P-00548) (PDF), highlights the partnership of state agencies, aging service providers, public health workers, health care professionals, and families interested in reducing falls.

Momentum is strong in Wisconsin for success. Multiple communities have, or are developing, fall prevention or healthy aging coalitions. Further, a team of diverse partners helped develop this plan and it will take these and new partners to help it succeed.

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 the right information and knowledge, falls can be prevented. Research shows that successful fall prevention programs have multiple parts. Visit the sections below to learn more.

The mission of the Wisconsin Falls Prevention Initiative is to reduce falls and fall-related injuries 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 Medicaid Services and Public Health. The group is open to all who believe in the mission and want to help refine and achieve the following 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.

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 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

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

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

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.

Last revised April 13, 2023