As we get older, health conditions, physical changes and even sometimes medications can cause a person to fall. Falls in the home are the leading cause of injury among seniors. There are six strategies that can help with the prevention of falls.
#1 Talk to your doctor
To start making a fall-prevention plan, speak with your doctor. You will need to take a list of all the prescription medications and over-the-counter medication that you are currently taking. The doctor will review your medication to make sure none of them interact with each other or have side effects that can make a risk of falling greater. Also, make sure to document any falls that have occurred, where the fall happened, and how you fell. Make sure to also include any times that you may have been caught by someone or have grabbed onto an object to keep you from falling. There are certain ear and eye disorders that can also increase your risk of falling.
#2 Keep moving
As long as it is okay with your doctor, activities such as walking, tai chi and workouts that involve slow and graceful movements are best. These activities will help improve flexibility, strength, coordination and balance. A physical therapist can create a customized exercise program for you if you are afraid to try the exercises on your own. The Nurses Guild Home Health Agency will be able to come out to your home and offer services to you, including Home Health Aides and Physical Therapy.
#3 Wear the right kind of shoes
Socks, floppy slippers, high heels or shoes with slippery soles can make you slip on certain surfaces increasing your risk of stumbling and falling. You should consider wearing shoes that properly fit and have nonskid soles. These types of shoes may also help in reducing joint pain.
#4 Remove hazards from your home
Remove electrical cords, phone cords, boxes and magazine or newspapers from walkways. Things like plant stands, magazine racks and coffee tables should not be in places where you will be walking a lot. Any loose floorboards or carpeting needs to be repaired. Things should be stored so that you can easily reach them. Place nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub. A bath seat can also be used so that you can sit while you take a shower.
Keep night lights in the hallway, bathrooms and bedroom. You should have a lamp within reach of your bed so that you can turn it on should you need to move from the bed after it is dark. Traditional lighting switches can be replaced with switches that illuminate or glow-in-the-dark. Flashlights should be stored in easy-to-find areas in case of a power outage.
#6 Assistive devices
Your doctor or physical therapist may recommend that you use a walker or a cane to keep you steady. Other things that can be done in the home are:
- Hand rails on both sides of the stairs
- Nonslip pads on bare steps
- Toilet seats with armrest or that are raised
- Grab bars in the tub or shower