State Department of Health and Office for the Aging Encourage Falls Prevention

September 23 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 23, 2014) – Today is National Falls Prevention Day and the New York State Department of Health and the State Office for the Aging want to remind seniors and their loved ones that there are precautions they can take to prevent falls, helping seniors remain independent and age in place.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries, deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits among New Yorkers 65 years old and older. They result in more than 1,000 deaths and 140,000 injuries requiring hospital treatment each year. Between 2000 and 2012, deaths resulting from falls among adults 65 years old and older increased 23.8%. Falls can cause broken bones and even brain injuries. Those who fall often experience a downward spiral in physical and mental health, ultimately taking away an individual's mobility and independence.

"Falls are not random accidents or a normal part of aging," said Acting State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. "In fact, falls occur in predictable patterns, with known risk factors you can change. Falls are preventable; older adults can take simple steps to minimize the risk of falling and help maintain their quality of life."

"Our mission is to help older New Yorkers live as independently as possible for as long as possible," said Acting State Office for the Aging Director Corinda Crossdale. "Falls are such a detriment to independence that many of our county Offices for the Aging across the state offer fall prevention and low-impact exercise classes to help individuals minimize the possibility of falls and learn ways to avoid injuries should they fall. Improving one's balance through exercise and taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of falling and injury."

NYSDOH and NYSOFA recommend older adults take these four steps to significantly lower the risk of falling:

  1. Stay active. Being active keeps you safe, healthy, and strong. It is never too late to start. Focus on activities that improve leg strength and balance. Talk to your doctor before starting a physical activity program. Some activity is better than none.
  2. Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Bring a list of your medicines (including over-the-counter and supplements) to your doctor or pharmacist. As you age, medicines work differently in your body. Some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.
  3. Make your home safer. Most falls happen at home. Use this fall hazard checklist to find and fix hazards in your home.
    • Make these small changes to make your home safer:
      • Clear stairs, hallways, and walkways of items you can trip over (throw rugs, pet-related items, wires, papers, books, clothes, shoes).
      • Use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.
      • Install grab bars next to your toilet, tub, or shower.
      • Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
      • Install more (or brighter) lights.
      • Put handrails and lights on all staircases.
      • Use a nightlight in the bathroom.
      • Wear shoes (not slippers) inside and outside of the house.
  4. Have your vision checked. Get your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

For more information about preventing falls, please visit the Department of Health website at:

To locate fall prevention programs in your area, contact your local Office for the Aging, which can be found at: