Falls Prevention

Basic Facts

A fall happens if a person lands on the ground or a lower level without meaning to do it. Falls often take place when people are in a familiar place, like their homes. It often happens when trying to do daily activities. A fall can also happen because of an outside force, a new illness, or losing consciousness (awareness).

Most Falls Result in Minor Injuries

Up to 20 percent of falls can cause a fracture (broken bone), in a person’s spine, hip, arm, leg, ankle, or pelvis. Falls can also cause brain or other serious injuries.

One of the most serious fractures is a broken hip. Most people will recover after getting rehabilitation (services to help a person regain their abilities). But many older people continue to need supports and services for the rest of their lives.

Falls Increase Use of Medical Care

Falls are the number one cause of hospital admissions in older adults. The older a person is when they fall, the more likely they will have to go to a nursing home for at least a year.

If a person falls, they may become afraid of falling again. This fear can lead to less activity and fitness, which can increase the risk of another fall.

How Common are Falls?

  • Up to a third of older adults who live at home have a fall. And almost two-thirds of older adults who fall during the past year will fall again.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injuries in older adults. One out of five falls result in a significant injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
  • Each year, three million older adults go to the emergency room because of falls. Over 800,000 need to go into the hospital.
  • Older women are twice as likely to fall and break a bone as older men. Men have a higher risk of dying after a fall.


Last Updated January 2023

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