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Santé Montréal

Falls Prevention

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What is falling?

Falling is losing your balance and falling down. 

Some factors can increase the risk of falling and hurting yourself.

Personal factors 

  • Balance problems
  • More fragile bones and muscles 
  • Vision or heating problems
  • Sedentarity (not doing much physical activity)
  • Side effects of certain medications*
  • Urgent need to go to the bathroom

* Most medications can have side effects; psychotropic drugs can especially affect balance. Don’t hesitate to ask a doctor or pharmacist about it.


Factors in your home

  • Slippery surfaces
  • Poor lighting
  • Obstacles over which a person can trip

Why is falling dangerous?

Each year, a third of seniors aged 65 and over will fall. As people age, the more serious the consequences can be. 
For many seniors, falling can trigger a transition to another, sometimes less desirable stage of life. Falling can lead to loss of autonomy or mobility, fractures, having to move to a residence, or even death. 

In Montréal: 

  • Most falls occur at home.
  • Seniors who live alone have 3 times more risk of injury when they fall than older people who live with someone.
  • Among seniors who fall, 8 in 10 are women, which is 4 times more than men.
  • Among seniors who hurt themselves when they fall, half are aged 75 years or older.

Falling isn’t a minor thing!

Winter or summer, falls have no season

People often think that falls occur more often in winter, but that’s not the case.

Falls can occur anytime.

 Watch for these symptoms in the summer during heat waves:

  • Blood circulation disorder (oedema) in lower limbs 
  • Dizziness, heat syncope (brief and sudden loss of consciousness, fainting) 
  • Weakness or muscle cramps
  • Dehydration

Take the necessary precautions when walking in winter: 


  • Walk slowly and carefully.
  • Wear anti-slip boots or crampons to walk on icy surfaces.
  • Test potentially slippery areas with one foot.
  • Use a backpack to carry your personal items.
  • Remove snow and ice from entrances, stairs and sidewalks (watch out for black ice). Don’t hesitate to hire someone to help you.
  • Don’t walk if your view is blocked.
  • On very icy surfaces, walk like a penguin.
  • Report untreated surfaces to the City of Montréal by calling 311.

We all have a role to play

  • Citizens

Be good neighbours and keep an eye on seniors living in your neighbourhood. Pick up objects that block sidewalks and paths (branches, garbage, recycling and composting buckets and bags). Offer to help take out the garbage, shovel, carry bags or do the shopping.

  • Building owners

Make it easier for seniors to get around by adapting their living environments. 

  • Community workers

Provide opportunities to stay active and engaged in the community (physical and social activities, workshops, etc.).
Offer support services (accompaniment, meals on wheels, etc.).
Develop and implement health promotion and prevention campaigns (isolation, abuse, falls, etc.).

  • City

Maintains and adapts public roads and spaces to make sure seniors are safe (urban planning, maintenance of roads and intersections, etc.).
Offers physical activity programs adapted to all ages.
Ensures access to transportation that is adapted to and safe for seniors.

  • Health professionals

Manage fall prevention through clinical practice (risk factor detection and related interventions, relevant evaluations, referrals to community resources, etc.).


Download this information to help you prevent falls

Self-assesment questionnaire: answer these few questions to determine if you are at risk of falling. Talk it over with your doctor or another a health care provider.

Recommendations to choose the right shoes. It’s important to read it when you go to buy shoes.

Taking medications can be a risk factor for falls.

As we get older, it’s important to see an optometrist each year.

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When to Consult

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Protection and prevention

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Risk factors

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Help and Resources

Proven effective, STAND UP! is part of a continuum of services designed to prevent falls and fractures among independent seniors living at home.

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People at Risk

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Éditée par : Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal.
Dernière mise à jour le : 2019.10.18