People with Parkinson's are at high risk of falling due to problems with balance, rigidity, and slowness of movement -- the primary motor symptoms of PD. Serious falls can lead to numerous injuries, including head injuries, broken hips, and other bone fractures. Complications from these injuries may require hospitilization or long-term rehabilitation. In some cases, falls can lead to death.
Some keys to preventing falls include exercise, good medication management and a safe home environment. Consider enrolling in a fall prevention program that may address some or all of these topics.
Consider talking a fall prevention program! Check out our list of fall prevention programs in Northern and Central California. Many fall prevention programs are at hospitals or senior centers.
Other good resources are listed below.
Published by AARP, 2007
Consider these safety improvements to make your and your loved one’s home as slip-free as possible. Inspect the inside and outside of the house, and check off the items that are complete and the ones you still need to do (PDF).
Published by the National Council on Aging
This 13-page toolkit (PDF) walks caregivers through a 3-step process using worksheets to: 1. Recognize physical, behavioral and environmental factors that may lead to a fall, 2. Have a conversation about risk factors specific to your situation, and 3. Develop a 7-step action plan for minimizing those risk factors.
Published by VA Health Care Parkinson’s Disease Research Education & Clinical Centers (PADRECC)
This tri-fold brochure (PDF) includes recommendations for fall prevention measures in the areas of household safety, self help and medical support, research from 2011-2012 into the benefits of Tai Chi and vitamin D, and a list of online fall prevention sources.
By Jeanne Csuy, PT, and Nathalie Grondin, PT. Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation (Formerly the National Parkinson Foundation)
This 136-page workbook (PDF) has several self assessments for risk factors related to falls with simple lifestyle and environment changes to improve and maintain independence and quality of life. Section 22 includes several exercises for strength and flexibility and section 24 explains how to handle a fall and get up from the floor.
By Sarah Ison, DPT, GCS. Published by the American Physical Therapy Association, Section on Neurology
This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) highlights some ways in which falling is more of a risk for those with Parkinson’s and explains how physical therapy can help at all stages of the disease.
By Keri Ann Lipperini, MPA. Published by the Administration for Community Living, 2018
This 2-page PDF outlines the physical, environmental and behavioral factors that put older people at higher risk for falls and offers six excellent tips to prevent falls.
Published by the National Council on Aging
The six things caregivers can do to prevent falls starts with enlisting the help of the person at risk for falling. This webpage will tell you how and why you should ask about current health conditions, most recent eye checkup, medications, and notice if trouble standing or holding onto things or people while walking. Finally, it shares how to make a home a bit safer from falls.
Published by Easy Climber, November 27, 2016
Good infographic on this webpage for 31 ways to age-proof a home. Most of the tips are about fall prevention.
Published by StopFalls.org
This website has lots of great info on fall prevention.
Published by Eldercare Services, August 28, 2019
The title of this article is a little overly dramatic, although the CDC did report just that, and falls are the leading cause of injury in Americans over age 65. This article provides the stats as well as listing factors that increase fall risks for seniors, and strategies you can employ to prevent falling,
By Faaria Ansari. Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, March 24, 2016
Balance, posture and gait issues, vision changes and orthostatic hypotension increase your risk of falling. This blog post recommends talking with your neurologist to determine your risk for falling and making changes to reduce that risk, like medication adjustments, assistive devices, exercises that focus on balance and small adjustments in your home.
Published by the Parkinson's Foundation (Formerly the Parkinson's Disease Foundation)
This webpage (previously newsletter article) has tips for home safety throughout the house.
Published by the Cleveland Clinic
This printable webpage recommends working with your doctor to ensure your medications and/or DBS are optimal and consulting with a physical therapist to assess your walking and balance. In addition it provides two lists of daily fall prevention: 1) How to prevent falls from common hazards around the home and 2) Tips for maintaining balance.
Published by AARP, 2017
Use these tips around the house and decrease your chances of serious injury.
By Parkinson’s UK, March 23, 2016
In this 31-minute lecture Dr. Emily Henderson talks about the serious impact of falls, neurological causes of falls, and her clinical trial, the results of which suggest that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors could help to prevent falls in Parkinson’s patients by enhancing concentration.
By OhioHealth, December 19, 2017
In this 21-minute lecture physical therapist, Jessica Allen, identifies hazards in our home and community that put Parkinson’s patients at-risk for falls such as floors, stairs, bathrooms, etc. and how to prevent them.
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, January 16, 2018
In this 1-hour webinar doctor Fay Horak discusses how the brain controls walking and balance, types of balance and gait impairments in PD and how they result in freezing and falls, and what can be done to minimize freezing and falls.
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, August 20, 2009
In this 6:30-minute video Dr. John Nutt explains the three most common causes of falling in those with Parkinson’s is postural change, freezing and low blood pressure. Your doctor may be able to reduce your risk. A physical therapist (PT) can teach you how to move in ways that lessen your risk of falling as well as help you prevent falling by making changes to your home, learn to use an assistive device or recommend how a wheelchair can be helpful.
By Family Caregiver Alliance, December 17, 2014
In this 1-hour webinar geriatrician, Leslie Kernisan, shares why fall prevention is important, why older adults fall (health-related risk factors, environmental risk factors and triggers), a 3-step process caregivers can use to identify risks and personalize fall reduction, five strategies geriatricians use to reduce falls and which medications increase fall risk.
By the Veteran's Administration
This 8-minute video alternates between an interview with a man sharing his experience of falling due to Parkinson's disease, with a doctor, physical therapist and occupational therapist explaining why people with PD fall, the benefit of physical therapy and exercise before a person has ever fallen to prevent falls and what an occupational therapist can do to prevent falling at home and in the broader environment.
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, June 5, 2018
In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Erin Foster focuses mainly on falls, but also addresses other potential safety problems related to the motor and non-motor aspects of Parkinson’s. It will cover risk factors for home safety problems and strategies to prevent them.
By the Davis Phinney Foundation
In this 20-minute lecture physical therapist, Heather Knight, explains different factors that play into our individual risks for falls, like tripping hazards, changes in walking surfaces and poor lighting, as well as what you can do to make your home safer to reduce your risk of falling and to strengthen movement.
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, February 19, 2010
In this 4-minute video Dr. Bastiaan Bloem recommends preventing falls in those with Parkinson’s disease with a multi-disciplinary approach. He outlines specific tasks for a neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and rehabilitation specialist. When prevention of falls is not possible protective measures should be installed around the home, learn to use a walking aid properly or even wear a helmet.
Last updated August 2020 by Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach.