Dear Donna:

My mom had a bad fall at home a few days ago. While no serious harm was done, she is pretty bruised and sore. Her fall caught us off guard as it’s never happened before. I scheduled a physical with her primary care physician but want to be proactive in identifying potential problems in the meantime.

What are some warning signs that an older adult is at risk for a fall? What changes can we help her make at home?

My family and I would be grateful for any direction you can provide!


Kaye in Ann Arbor, MI

Identify Fall Risks for a Senior Loved One

Hi, Kaye:

I’m glad to hear your mother didn’t suffer any serious injuries when she fell, but I’m sure it must have been frightening for both of you! It’s good that you are taking this seriously. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors, so anything you can do to lower your mother’s risk is essential.

Here are a few recommendations to help you try to identify your mother’s potential risks:

  • Conduct a home safety assessment: If your mother lives in an older home, it might not have been designed with senior safety in mind. Stairs, poor lighting, and difficult-to-access showers are a few potential hazards. One of the first steps you can take is to conduct a room-by-room evaluation of her house to identify problem spots. This information will help you.
  • Examine her nutrition: This one often catches people off guard. Poor nutrition can cause weakness and make seniors unsteady on their feet. Spend some time talking about her diet. Make sure she’s eating well and not skipping meals.
  • Review her medications: Medications can have side effects and interactions that increase the risk for a fall. Talk with your mom’s pharmacist by phone or in person to identify any potential problems. Don’t forget to tell them about any over-the-counter medications or homeopathic remedies she is taking.
  • Schedule a vision exam: Another reason seniors experience falls is poor vision. Sometimes older adults might not even realize their vision is worsening. A yearly eye exam helps identify issues early and gives the ophthalmologist an opportunity to intervene before small problems become big ones. If your mother hasn’t had one in more than a year, schedule a check-up.
  • Encourage regular exercise: Core strength is linked to good balance. That’s another vital component of a good fall prevention program. Walking, light weight lifting, and resistance band workouts can help improve strength and balance. As is true of any new form of exercise, talk with your mom’s physician before starting.

I hope this information is helpful to you, Kaye! Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind regards,


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