Enjoy Autumn —
Just Don’t Take a Fall

September is Fall Prevention Month

Fall is a beautiful time of year. The possibility of cooler weather on the horizon and the changing autumn leaves (well, at least the ones us Floridians see in pictures or on visits to northern locations) are a welcome break from the summer heat.

But there’s another type of fall that you definitely don’t want to be part of this season — or any season for that matter — and that’s the accidental kind.


Sanjiv Gray, MD

General Surgery, Trauma Surgery

The Impact of Falls

At Lakeland Regional Health, we recognize that falls can have severe consequences, impacting our patients’ physical health and overall well-being. That's why we're dedicated to helping you find strategies to keep you safe and steady.

Wondering how common falls are? We asked LRH trauma surgeon Dr. Sanjiv Gray for specifics.

“Accidental falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among Florida residents aged 65 years and older,” said Dr. Gray.

In fact, he notes that about 25 percent of the elderly population in Florida experienced a fall within the last 12 months.

This statistic applies to the Lakeland Regional Health service area, too. 

“Just in the first half of 2023, 46% of our trauma patients at LRH were being treated due to a fall,” Dr. Gray explained. “These patients had different patterns of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, rib fractures, and even long bone fractures, like hip fractures. But, we’ve already been making strides in reducing the incidence of falls and fall-related injuries or deaths. We want to see that number even lower,” Dr. Gray said. “Working together, I know we can get there.”

Risk Factors that Can Contribute to Falls

Don’t let the statistics trip you up. With the right interventions, fall risks can be greatly reduced.

A combination of factors can contribute to the risk of falls. As we age, changes in our balance, strength, and sensory perception can make us more prone to taking a spill. External hazards, such as environmental dangers and medication side effects, can also play a role. Here are just a few examples.


Physical/Mental Risk Factors:

  • Vision, mobility, or hearing impairments
  • Medications which affect balance or alertness
  • Certain chronic medical conditions (e.g. arthritis, foot pain, diabetes, neuropathy, or prior stroke)
  • Having a previous fall or a fear of falling


Environmental Risk Factors

  • Slippery floors
  • Obstacles or clutter on the floor
  • Unsecured rugs
  • Partially or fully obstructed walkways
  • Lack of stable hand holds, especially in higher-risk areas (such as bathrooms)

“Remember, environmental hazards and unsafe home conditions can affect people of any age,” Dr. Gray cautions. “That’s why it's essential to be proactive about fall prevention for your loved ones — and yourself — by taking appropriate precautions and staying vigilant about potential risks.”

How to Prevent Falls

People of any age — with or without any of the above risk factors — can reduce their risk by:

  • Getting regular exercise. Exercise programs designed to improve balance, strength, and flexibility can enhance your physical function and reduce the likelihood of falling. For example, low-impact strength training can improve balance as well as enhance bone and muscle health.

  • Having annual checkups. In addition to your physical, be sure to have your vision and hearing checked at least once a year to identify any potential contributors to falls, such as impairments of any type.

  • Performing a home safety check. Making your home safer can include simple modifications like removing clutter, improving the lighting, securing area rugs, and installing equipment such as grab bars and handrails.

  • Choosing the right footwear. Shoes with proper support and non-slip soles go a long way in providing stability and preventing falls.

  • Reviewing medications with your medical provider. Thoughtful management of medications that may affect balance is paramount to fall prevention. If dizziness or drowsiness is being caused by your medication, discussing this with your provider can help determine if alternative treatments are advisable.

Our Promise to You

At Lakeland Regional Health, our healthcare professionals are at the forefront of fall prevention. Our board-certified experts conduct thorough assessments to understand your unique risk factors and tailor interventions that meet your individual needs. We’re here to guide you through lifestyle modifications and provide unwavering support on your journey to improved safety.

We believe in collaboration, too. By involving physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and family caregivers in your care, we create a truly multidisciplinary approach that ensures every angle is covered to minimize fall risks.

As we welcome autumn, let us be your steady hand in navigating the potential hazards and staying safe in every season.