Do Seniors Listen to or Act Upon Advice about Fall Prevention

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. April 18, 2016

Do Seniors Listen to or Act Upon Advice about Fall Prevention

When trying to improve senior home safety, we assume (with good intentions) that our intended audience (seniors – adults over the age of 65) will understand and act upon the advice provided. With one out of three seniors falling each year, we would like to think that seniors would do everything in their power to prevent themselves from falling.

A graduate thesis, “OLDER ADULTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF FALL-PREVENTION EDUCATION: A QUALITATIVE STUDY” by Kristi Sanborn Miller in July 2010 is relevant to the intentions of this website and to seniors and all family members and caregivers who want to help improve safety conditions in homes. Quotes from the thesis are italicized.

This study shows that traditional fall prevention education messages emphasizing changes with aging and the dangers of falling are not well received by older inpatients. … participants do not believe themselves to be at risk for falling, do not believe falling is preventable, and for the most part do not feel fall prevention education messages applied to them. … this study shows that participants are open to fall prevention education if it is delivered in an appropriate manner.

Implications for older inpatient education include that it matters who provides fall prevention messages, what messages should emphasize, when and where messages should take place and how they should be delivered (see Table 2).

  • Messages should come from trusted family, friends and professionals
  • Emphasize the positive – what the patient can do to promote independence
  • Build on patient strengths – what the patient is already doing well
  • Promote exercise
  • Teach that most falls are preventable
  • The manner of delivery matters – respect patient independence and life lessons
  • Involve the patient and family in planning interventions
  • Tailor the education to specific patient needs
  • Use multimodal delivery
  • Practice with the patient
  • Assess for understanding

Source: Kristi Sanborn Miller, OLDER ADULTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF FALL-PREVENTION EDUCATION: A QUALITATIVE STUDY. A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate School of Western Carolina University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing, July 2010.

Bottom line from Safety In Place:

  1. Choose the right physician. Seek a gerontologist who is familiar with STEADI . Make sure the senior and the physician communicate well.
  2. Talk about aging with your loved ones. We all age – understand your own desires and let them be known to others.
  3. Respect your elders. Listen to your parents and grandparents – and they will listen to you.
  4. Falls can be prevented. Even healthy people fall – regardless of their age.

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.