Fall Prevention

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.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

AARP HomeFit Guide

Published by AARP, 2020

This 36-page downloadable booklet can also be ordered as a paper copy through the mail by filling out this order form.  There are more than 100 tips and suggestions in this area-by-area guide (includes rooms as well as entryways, hallways, garage, outdoor spaces, etc.).  All tips are doable regardless of housing type or ownership status to make your home suitable for all members of your household, no matter a person’s age or life stage.

Caregiving Checklist: Preventing Falls

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).

Fall Prevention, Parkinson’s Disease

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.

Falls Prevention Conversation Guide for Caregivers

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.

Falls Prevention Workbook

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.

Physical Therapy for Fall Prevention in People with Parkinson’s Disease

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.

Preventing Falls: A Guide for People Living with Parkinson's

Published by Parkinson Canada, 2020

This 56-page booklet includes risk factors for falling, what you can do to reduce your risk, how fear of falling is a risk for falling, tips for moving safely, cues to overcome freezing, home and community safety tips.  
You must register with Parkinson Canada to download the booklet.

Taking Steps to Prevent Falls as We Age

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.

Online Articles

6 Steps for Preventing Falls Among Your Older Loved Ones

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.

31 Tips For Future Proofing Your Home 

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.

Basics of Fall Prevention

Published by StopFalls.org

This website has lots of great info on fall prevention.

Fatal Falls in Older Adults are on the Rise

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, 

Five Fall Prevention Strategies for People with Parkinson’s Disease

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.

Home Safety

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.

How to Safely Pick a Loved One (or Yourself) Up After a Fall

By Anne-Marie Botek.  Published by Aging Care, September 17, 2021

In addition to common sense information about how to handle falls this comprehensive webpage offers a step-by-step guide for what to do if an elderly person falls, including how to get them off the floor without hurting yourself and a guide for how to get yourself off the floor if you fall.

Older Adult Fall Prevention

Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This short webpage shares facts about falls, why falls are serious and costly, what can happen after a fall, what conditions make it more likely you will fall, and what you can do to prevent falls.  The bottom of the page has additional resources and related pages about fall prevention for families and professionals.

Parkinson’s Disease: Preventing Falls & Maintaining Balance

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.

Simple Steps to Prevent Falls

Published by AARP, 2017

Use these tips around the house and decrease your chances of serious injury. 

Stay Independent

Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011

This 2-page brochure includes a checklist to assess your personal risk for falling and shares four things you can do to prevent falls.

Podcasts & Webinars

Can We Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s

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.

Fall Prevention

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.

Freezing or Sweating and Falls When Walking with Parkinson’s Disease

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.

How Can Falls Be Prevented?

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.

How to Prevent Falls in Aging Adults

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.

Impact of Falls and Parkinson's Disease 

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.

It's Not All Dopamine: Possible Mechanisms and Interventions for Falls in PD

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, August 2020

In this 1-hour talk Rober Albin, movement disorder specialist and researcher, describes the impact of dopamine and acetylcholine in Parkinson's through some animal and human trials.  Research has found a nicotine-like drug (Varenicline) is very safe, well tolerated and seems to improve attention in those with PD.


Living Alone: Home Safety and Management in PD

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.

Maximize Your Mobility with Fall Prevention

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.

Preventing Falls for People with Parkinson's

By Parkinson Canada, November 30, 2020

This 57-minute video highlights and augments the information in the Parkinson Canada booklet Preventing Falls: A Guide for People Living with Parkinson's, including 15-minutes of questions and answers.

What are Some Strategies to Prevent Falls in PD Patients?

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.