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Reviewed January 2011
Falls are serious at any age, but especially for older people who are more likely to break a bone when they fall.
If you have a disease called osteoporosis, you are more likely to break a bone if you fall. Osteoporosis is called the "silent disease" because bones become weak with no symptoms. You may not know that you have it until a strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to break.
Falls are especially dangerous for people with osteoporosis. If you break a bone, you might need a long time to recover. Learning how to prevent falls can help you avoid broken bones and the problems they can cause.
Some of the reasons people fall are:
Illness and some medicines can make you feel dizzy, confused, or slow. Medicines that may increase the risk of falls are:
Drinking alcohol can lead to a fall because it can:
At any age, people can make changes to lower their risk of falling. Some tips to help prevent falls outdoors are:
Some ways to help prevent falls indoors are:
You can also do exercises to improve your balance. While holding the back of a chair, sink, or counter:
Sometimes you cannot prevent a fall. If you do fall, you can try to prevent breaking a bone. Try to fall forwards or backwards (on your buttocks), because if you fall to the side you may break your hip. You can also use your hands or grab things around you to break a fall. Some people wear extra clothes to pad their hips or use special hip pads.
Some ways to protect your bones are:
Recommended Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes
|Life-stage group||Calcium mg/day||Vitamin D (IU/day)|
|Infants 0 to 6 months||200||400|
|Infants 6 to 12 months||260||400|
|1 to 3 years old||700||600|
|4 to 8 years old||1,000||600|
|9 to 13 years old||1,300||600|
|14 to 18 years old||1,300||600|
|19 to 30 years old||1,000||600|
|31 to 50 years old||1,000||600|
|51- to 70-year-old males||1,000||600|
|51- to 70-year-old females||1,200||600|
|>70 years old||1,200||800|
|14 to 18 years old, pregnant/lactating||1,300||600|
|19 to 50 years old, pregnant/lactating||1,000||600|
Definitions: mg = milligrams; IU = International Units
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010.
Toll free: 800-624-BONE (2663)
For the NIA publication on fall prevention, go to: www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/falls.htm
The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases~National Resource Center acknowledges the assistance of the National Osteoporosis Foundation in the preparation of this publication.
This publication may contain information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this publication was printed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.
For updates and for any questions about any medications you are taking, please contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at:
Toll Free: 888-INFO-FDA (888-463-6332)