Ask Joan: Fear of falling can leave seniors at home alone
September 18, 2023

Question: About a month ago, my mother fell and hurt herself. Nothing serious, just a slight bruise, but now she’s apprehensive about leaving the house because she’s afraid she’ll fall again, and it might be more serious. I’m not sure what I can do to ease her fears. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: I’m so glad your mother wasn’t hurt too badly. Although the physical injury may have been minimal, it sounds like the emotional harm was more significant.

Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO of AgeSpan

Falling can be a frightening experience and cause older adults to hesitate to leave their homes, leading them to become scared, isolated, and depressed.

This question comes at a perfect time because it is National Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Our agency has partnered with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to promote two key points: falling is not a normal part of aging, and many falls are preventable.

The theme for this year is “From Awareness to Action,” and here are six ways to take action from NCOA:

1. Find a good balance and exercise program that can help build balance, strength, and flexibility such as our A Matter of Balance, which presents practical strategies to avoid falls and reduce the fear of falling.

2. Take the Falls Free Checkup and talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of falling.

3. Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.

4. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your glasses. Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.

5. Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.

6. Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue – have them take the Falls Free Checkup, too!

Our Healthy Living Center of Excellence also offers other evidence-based programs that strengthen older adults, improve their sense of balance, and encourage them to become more active and resilient.

They include Walk with Ease, which prompts seniors to pursue this safe and efficient exercise, and Matter of Balance, a program to help reduce fear of falling by emphasizing practical coping strategies and increasing activity levels and confidence.

Knowledge is power, so please encourage your mother to take the Falls Free Checkup, talk to her healthcare provider, and sign up for a falls-prevention class.

Good luck!

Are you caring for an older adult or need help locating healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at for more information. You can also call us at 800-892-0890 or email Joan Hatem-Roy is the chief executive officer of AgeSpan.

First published in the Eagle-Tribune September 17, 2023

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