Senior man falling on the ground with walker in living room at home.

My doctor has suggested that I write a column about falls. He seems to think falls are bad for people. I tend to agree.

This column is about avoiding falls and the legal implications if you fall anyway.  

The thing to remember about falling is that if it doesn’t kill you, it will seriously inconvenience you and everyone around you. Falling when you are old and have fragile bones is, bluntly, bad for you. That is a shame because older folks are prone to falls. 

Why Are Older People More Prone to Falling?

They have medical conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia, concussions, vitamin D deficiency, or Kyphosis (a forward rounding of the back). They have medications that make them dizzy or drowsy. They have limited vision which causes them to miss stairs or not see obstacles on the floor. They have postural hypotension (blood pressure drops) or sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass).

Basically, the universe is conspiring for you to fall. It is your job to outwit it.

Tips for Avoiding a Fall

Here are a few practical suggestions.

Give Yourself a Moment

  • When you sit up, count to 10 before you stand up. Let your body catch up to your mind.
  • When you do stand up, make sure your feet are properly positioned under you and are not placed on a surefire fall risk such as a loose rug.  
  • Stand for 10 seconds or so before you start walking.

Listen to Your Doctor

  • If the doctor suggests that you use a walker or cane, then do so. You cannot bulldog your way into balance.
  • If you have medications that make you dizzy or drowsy, talk to your doctor about taking them at bedtime.
  • If you have a hard time seeing, visit your eye doctor. If you don’t have an eye doctor, get one. 

Take It Slow

If you are walking fast, slow down. Whatever you are rushing to do will wait. If it won’t wait, you don’t need to do it. Remember that falling is a 360-degree game. You can fall forward or backward and get a nice concussion or a broken arm. You can fall sideways and break a hip.

Paradoxically, once you fall, you become more afraid of falling. This can lead you to be less active, which leads to you being weaker. This in turn leads to – you guessed it – another fall for you.  

Legal Documents You Need in Case of a Fall

The medical recommendations are simple. Talk to your doctor, review your medicines, do strength and balance exercises, get your eyes checked, and make your home safer. The legal recommendations and documents you need are equally simple.

1. Medical Power of Attorney

Have a Medical Power of Attorney in place so when you do fall and blackout, someone can make your medical decisions for you.

2. HIPAA Release

Have a HIPAA release in place so your agents can easily get your medical information even if you are not incapacitated.

3. Directive to Physicians 

Have a Directive to Physicians in place so the doctors and your agents know what life-sustaining treatment to choose when your fall leads to a permanent coma.

4. Durable Power of Attorney

Have a Durable Power of Attorney in place so an agent can pay the bills and sign the admission statement to the rehab center after you break your hip.

5. Declaration of Guardian

Have a Declaration of Guardian in place so the court knows who to appoint as your guardian when all else fails.

6. Will

Have a will so we know what to do with your estate when you die from complications from the fall.

7. Designation of Burial Agent

Have a Designation of Burial Agent in place so we know what to do with your remains.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm is Here to Help You Prepare for a Fall

A fall could happen to anyone. It’s important to be prepared and our team is here to help. Contact the experts at Hammerle Finley Law Firm today. 

And please join me in thanking my doctor for a great column suggestion.  

Virginia Hammerle is an accredited estate planner and represents clients in estate planning, probate, guardianship, and contested litigation. She may be reached at This blog contains general information only and does not constitute legal advice.