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Home Safety: How to Reduce the Risk of Falls

Marketing Intern | Shield HealthCare
10/16/17  10:20 AM PST
Reduce the risk of falls

As we grow older, we all become more prone to falling. Causes may include physical reasons such as strength/dexterity, side effects of medications, health issues, or simply clutter around the house. There are many ways to prevent falls, but the six most simple strategies are outlined below:

Strategies:

  1. Make appointments with your doctor and prepare to answer questions.

    • What medications are you taking?
      • Make a list of them, or bring them to your appointment. The doctor can review your medications with you for side effects that could increase your likelihood to fall.
    • Have you fallen before?
      • Record any details of recent falls you have had. Your doctor may be able to identify specific fall prevention strategies for you.
    • Could your health conditions cause you to fall?
      • Certain types of eye or ear disorders can increase your chances of falling. Your doctor may even evaluate your strength, balance and gait.
  2. Stay active.

    • Staying active can actually reduce your risk of falls because it will improve your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
    • Your doctor may also recommend seeing a physical therapist who will create a customized exercise and movement program focused on improving your balance, flexibility and strength.
  3. Wear smart shoes.

    • Wear properly fitted and sensible shoes to prevent slipping, skidding or stumbling.
  4. Remove household hazards.

    • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
    • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and potted plants from walkways.
    • Secure rugs with tacks, double sided tape etc.
    • Repair loose flooring/carpet.
    • Clean spills immediately.
    • Store clothing/food/dishes/cleaning supplies etc. within reaching distance.
    • Use nonslip mats in bathtubs and a bath seat while showering to prevent slipping.
  5. Lighten up.

    • Keep your house illuminated with:
      • Lamps
      • Well-lit stairwells
      • Nightlights (particularly between bedroom and bathroom for nighttime trips)
      • Flashlights
  6. Use assistance devices.

    • Canes/walkers
    • Handrail on stairs
    • Nonslip material on hardwood floors/bathtubs
    • Raised toilet seat with armrests
    • Bath seat for sitting when bathing
    • Handheld shower nozzle

Related Article: Fall Risk Checklist for Caregivers 

Tips for Caregivers to Prevent Falls:

  1. Ask if your loved one is scared of falling or knows of the consequences if (s)he does fall. Some elderly people may recognize that falling is a risk but don’t believe that it’ll ever happen to them.
  2. Encourage a conversation about his/her current health conditions.
  3. Ask about your loved one’s latest eye checkup. Make sure the glasses prescription is current.
  4. Observe if (s)he is struggling to walk or stand by him/herself. If (s)he is struggling, suggest walking aides, such as a cane or walker.
  5. Discuss his/her medications. Is (s)he remembering to take them?
  6. Do a safety assessment of your loved one’s home.
    • Keep these three factors in mind:
      1. Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house. Make lighting easily available for someone who gets up in the middle of the night.
      2. Stairs: Ensure there are handrails.
      3. Bathrooms: Install railings in the bathtub and near the toilet. Invest in a handheld shower nozzle and a bath seat so (s)he can shower while sitting.

Related Article: How to Help a Loved One after Falling

Falling is a huge hazard for seniors, but preventing injuries can be simple if you follow the tips above. Below are links to additional information regarding falling and safety precautions.

 

Sources:

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