Have you or a loved one slipped or fallen recently? You are not alone, one in three older adults (65+) fall each year and as we get older we are more likely to fall. In 2013, over 17,000 older adults were treated and discharged from the Emergency Department and an additional 7,000 were hospitalized in San Diego alone.
So, why are older adults more likely to fall? There are many different risk factors and most of these become more common in older people. Risk factors include:
- Balance and mobility problems
- Medical conditions and medications
- Poor Vision
- Environmental hazards.
The good news is that many falls are preventable and you CAN reduce your risk of falling!
Steps to Prevent Falls:
Stay active to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Walking, dancing, Tai Chi and exercise classes are all good ways to improve your health. Depending on your medical or surgical history, your doctor may refer you to a Physical Therapist who can help you start an exercise program. Talk with your doctor about the best approach for you.
Talk with your doctor about health issues, such as osteoporosis, your Vitamin D level, medications, difficulty with hearing or vision, or if you feel faint, off-balance or dizzy. If you have dizzy spells, your doctor may recommend you see a specialist for help. Your doctor or pharmacist can also look at your medications to check for side effects that can make you dizzy or affect your coordination. Don't forget to ask about over-the-counter medicines like allergy medications, sleep aids and pain killers.
Have your vision checked at least one time per year by a professional. Vision can change so slowly that we do not even notice it.
Make your home safer, remove things you could trip or slip on, maintain good lighting and nightlights, and install strong grab bars and handrails. As we age, our eyes often need more light than we realize.
More information on local community resources and programs to prevent falls is available in our resource guide below. Ask your physician's office or other health provider to use this website to identify resources that are appropriate for you. Please scroll down and click on the links to see our resources for seniors and service providers.
If you are a provider please scroll down for provider resources and consider joining our Fall Prevention Task Force, meeting details listed below.
San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force:
The County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Aging & Independence Services, sponsors the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force. The Task Force includes older adults and service providers. The main chapter and North County chapter each meet once per month. Our mission is to reduce falls and their devastating consequences.
Main Chapter: 2nd Tuesday of each month from 1:00 PM- 2:00 PM
County Operation Center
5560 Overland Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123 -
Aging and Independence Services, Third Floor
*Please check in at front desk upon arrival
North County Chapter: 3rd Tuesday of each month, from 1:00 - 2:30
Tri-City Wellness Center
6250 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92009
(Conference room is just off the main foyer near the café.)
The Fall Prevention Task Force also hosts a Speaker’s Bureau that provides 30-60 minute presentations for groups titled Fall Prevention For Seniors.
If you would like to join the Fall Prevention Task Force email distribution list contact or request a presentation from the Fall Prevention Speakers Bureau please contact Katie Zahm at Katie.Zahm@SDCounty.CA.Gov
Resources and Links:
Fall Prevention On-line Resource Guide Click on this link to view the Fall Prevention Resource Guide to San Diego community agencies that provide fall prevention services, such as exercise programs, home safety modification, home health services and more.
Fall Prevention Toolkit – created by the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force:
Introduction: What you can do in your practice
Information for providers:
Fall Prevention in San Diego – an article by Eric McDonald, MD, FACEP and Kimberly Bell, DPT, MPT that includes AGS guidelines.
Profile of California Falls – prevalence data and importance of falls as a public health concern.
Medications and falls in the elderly – an article describing adverse drug effects which increase fall risk.
The "Get Up and Go Test" – a proven assessment tool for clinicians from the American Geriatrics Society
Drug-related falls in older patients: implicated drugs, consequences, and possible prevention strategies
Information for older adults:
Catch Yourself: Simple Steps to Prevent Falls – an overview of fall prevention interventions.
Home Modifications – a list of safety steps for inside the home.
Preventing Outdoor Falls – a list of steps to take in the local community.
Exercise Guide: A guide developed by the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence with support from the national Fall Proof Program.
Steps to Prevent a Fall (1 minute 40 seconds)
This short animated video provides 6 easy steps everyone can take to prevent a fall.
"Don't Fall for It" (10 Minutes)
the short version provides a brief overview of the problem, common risk factors and simple steps anyone can take to lower their risk of falling.
"Don't Fall for It" (28 Minutes)
the long version describes the above information in more detail and highlights the personal stories of three elderly individuals.
Spanish version of "Don't Fall for It" (14 Minutes)
this version provides an overview of the problem, common risk factors and simple steps anyone can take to lower their risk of falling.
Fall Prevention for Clinicians
This video shows how you can incorporate fall prevention in your practice.
Senior Falls Report, County of San Diego 2012 – local data on falls and fall-related injuries, hospitalizations and deaths.
Stop Falls California- information to reflect a California state wide effort to reduce falls
Center for Disease Control and Prevention STEDI: Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries
Fall Prevention Center of Excellence
Evidence-Base Fall Prevention Programs
Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging: Includes exercises, free books in English and Spanish and audio books.
National Council on Aging
National Institutes of Health - National Library of Medicine
Vial of Life - Vials of Life consists of a magnetic plastic holder that contains a form with your specific health information. Please keep the Vial of Life on your refrigerator and in case of emergency, paramedics will be able to refer to the Vial of Life and save precious time. To request the Vial of Life magnetic plastic holder, please call 1-800-510-2020. Make sure to keep your health information updated and accurate. The form can be downloaded by clicking on this link, so that you may print out a new form at any time.
Although resources in this section have been selectively chosen, it is a work in progress and we recognize that not all available resources are included. Please contact Katie.Zahm@sdcounty.ca.gov with comments, questions or suggestions for additional resources to help make this site as comprehensive and user-friendly as possible.