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Tips for Fall Prevention

Each year almost one-third of all people who are 65 years and older experience a fall, and three out of four of these falls occur indoors. As such, it is important to identify the major hazards in the home and find ways to “fall proof” the home. Here are some safety tips to help prevent falls and the fractures that can result from falling.
Indoor Safety Tips

  • Keep all rooms free from clutter, especially the floors.
  • Wipe up spills that occur on wooden or tiled floors immediately.
  • Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery.
  • Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes.
  • Avoid walking around in socks, stockings or scuffs.
  • Check that all carpets or area rugs have skid-proof backing or that they are tacked to the floor, including the carpeting on stairs.
  • Keep all stairwells well-lit with handrails on both sides. Consider placing fluorescent or brightly colored tape on the edges of the top and bottom steps.
  • Keep electrical cords and telephone lines out of walkways.
  • Install grab bars on bathroom walls beside tubs, showers, and toilets. If you are unstable on your feet consider using a plastic chair with a back and nonskid leg tips in the shower.
  • Use a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed and consider placing a night light in your bedroom and/or hall, particularly between your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Use at least 100 watt bulbs in your home to ensure ample light.
  • Add ceiling fixtures to rooms lit by lamps only, or install a lamp that can be turned on by a switch near the room entrance. Another option is to install voice or sound activated lamps.
  • Reorganize work areas and storage to minimize the need for stooping or excessive reaching. If you must use a stepstool, make sure that it is sturdy and has a handrail and wide steps.
  • Avoid sitting in chairs that have wheels.
  • Make certain that the nighttime temperature in your home is not lower than 65 degrees
  • Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures may cause body temperatures to drop, leading to dizziness and falling. Many older people do not recover from lowered temperatures as quickly as younger people.

Life Style Behaviors

Certain life style behaviors can make a person more susceptible to a fall. Here are some other tips to help keel you safe.

  • Use caution in drinking alcoholic beverages, as alcohol can slow reflexes and may cause confusion, dizziness and/or disorientation.
  • Do not do things in a hurry. Accidents are more likely to happen when you do things in haste.
  • Be aware that the use of multiple medicines can increase your risk of falling. Never change or skip medications without first talking with your healthcare provider.
  • Stay alert and focused when in public places.
  • Participate in weight-bearing exercise regularly to help maintain bone density and muscle strength. Physical training can improve balance and coordination and reduce the risk of falls. Increased muscle mass may even help prevent fractures if a fall occurs.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Good nutrition with an adequate daily intake of calcium and vitamin D are important to bone health at all ages.
  • Wear glasses or a hearing aid if needed.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are having balance problems or walking unsteadily. A consultation with a physical therapist for a specific exercise program, an evaluation for the need for an assistive device and a blood test to measure your vitamin D level (25 – hydroxyvitamin D) may all help reduce the risk of falls.
  • Wear appropriate shoes both indoors and out.

Other Safety Considerations

  • Consider purchasing a portable phone that you can take with you from room to room. It provides security because not only can you answer the phone without rushing for it, but you can also call for help should an accident occur.
  • Arrange with a family member or friend for daily contact. Always have at least one person who knows where you are.
  • Give some thought to contracting with a monitoring company that will respond to your call 24 hours a day if you live alone.

Source for this article:

“Tips for Fall Prevention” National Osteoporosis Foundation, Standing Tall for You, Volume 21, Number 4, page 3-4.

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