Fall Prevention Strategies
The number one cause of injury in the elderly population is falls. Here are 10 easy tips to help you or your loved ones avoid falls.
1. Remove loose rugs and area rugs. Even though large area rugs are sometimes relatively “secure” the slight change in elevation can act as a tripping hazard.
2. Remove clutter. A magazine, newspaper, or loose papers may cause you to slip. Stepping on a remote can twist your ankle. An extension cord can cause you to trip. Keep your floors clear!
3. Place items within reach. When you reach, you often have to move outside your limits of stability or center of gravity. Avoid doing that! For example, keep your commonly used bathroom items on the counter.
4. If you are dizzy, SIT DOWN. It is not uncommon for people to experience dizziness when they change positions and so they practice pausing once they stand up in order to ensure they are not dizzy, and that they are able to walk. However, there is a condition called orthostatic hypotension. Dizziness caused by orthostatic hypotension normally occurs TWO MINUTES after standing, which means people have left their chairs and are often in the middle of the room when the dizziness strikes! Find the nearest chair and sit down whenever you feel dizzy.
5. Use a night light. We rely heavily on our vision for balance. If you stand in place and close your eyes, you will likely feel a tad more, or significantly more, unsteady. This is why falls often occur at night. Vision is compromised by darkness, and therefore balance is also compromised.
6. If you are experiencing dizziness and have medications that “may cause dizziness” (and most of them do), try to determine which one may be the culprit and ask your doctor if you can take that medication at night, IF YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. If you don’t sleep through the night and you walk to the bathroom in the dark, it is probably best to take those meds during the day so you aren’t doubling your risk for falls at night.
7. Stay hydrated! Dehydration is a common cause of dizziness and dizziness leads to falls.
8. Wear properly fitting shoes.
9. Equip your bathroom. Create skid-proof surfaces and install grab bars as needed.
10. Don’t rush! Falls often occur on the way to the bathroom. The elderly frequently suffer from incontinence. As we age, it becomes more difficult to maintain tone in our muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are no exception. (And men, you have pelvic floor muscles too!) If you find yourself rushing to the commode to avoid an accident, consider timed voiding. Set a timer to void every few hours, and walk calmly to the bathroom BEFORE the urge hits you.
Enabling Seniors to age in place with dignity and grace!