Coping With The Fear of Falling

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What is one of the greatest fears my elderly patients face each day? 

The fear of falling.


  • Falls are ranked as the number one cause of injury related death for those over 65 years of age.
  • 1/3 of all adults fall at least once each year.
  • Of those who fall, 20%-30% suffer moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures or head traumas that reduces mobility and independence.


  • Nearly 2/3 of patients are discharged to nursing facilities.
  • About 50% will not return to independent living.
  • Up to 30% of all hospital –based falls result in serious injury.


  • The average length of stay in the hospital after a serious fall is about 12 days for people aged 65-74 years.
  • Falls injuries cost more than injuries from any other source.
  • A fractured neck of the femur bone (hip) costs the health system $17,000-$35,000.


  • Muscle weakness, gait impairment and poor balance contribute to one’s risk of falling.
  • Diabetic patients with neuropathy (loss of feeling) no longer can feel where their feet are on the ground, creating poor balance.
  • Vision impairment, dementia, certain medications may cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Environmental hazards: scatter rugs, showers, bath tubs, poorly lit rooms.


  • Have you fallen in the past?
  • Have you had any near falls?
  • Do you have a fear of falling?
  • Do you stumble or shuffle when walking?
  • Do you drag your feet when you walk?
  • Do you have to hold on to a wall or furniture while walking? 
  • Do your legs or ankles feel weak or unsteady?
  • Are you a diabetic with neuropathy?
  • If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you may be at risk for falling.


  1. HAVE YOUR FEET CHECKEDDo you have un-diagnosed neuropathy? Do you have muscle weakness? Are you walking barefoot or in slippers or socks at your home? Are you wearing balance foot wear (tie shoes, low heel height, sturdy shoes with high uppers)? Would you benefit from a Balance Brace (a custom –made foot and ankle support) that stabilizes your feet and legs?
  2. MAKE YOUR HOME SAFERRemove things you can trip over (books, clothes, shoes) from stairs and places where you walk. Remove small throw rugs or secure with double stick tape. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower.
  3. BEGIN A REGULAR EXERCISE PROGRAMLack of exercise lends to weakness and increases your chances of falling. I provide my patients a list of exercises that improve balance and coordination.
  4. HAVE YOUR VISION CHECKEDPoor vision increases the chance of falling.
  5. REVIEW YOUR MEDICINES EVEN THE OVER THE COUNTER ONES. Some drugs can make you dizzy or drowsy and can cause you to fall.

For patients who desire one, at Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists we perform a “Fall Risk Assessment”, which consists of evaluating gait and balance, muscle strength, foot deformities, foot wear and peripheral neuropathy. Those with any risk for falls receive a specialized list of recommendations to help reduce the chance of falling. The good news is that fall rates may be reduced by 30-40% through coordinated efforts by yourself, your family and your healthcare team.

For more information or a brochure of Fall Prevention Exercises please call (704) 861-0425, Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists, and ask for the “Moore Balance Brace” Brochure.

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054