Your Risk of Falling Can Be Reduced

Published March 10, 2015 in Falls  By  Ohad J. Pearl, MPH
Reduce Risk of Falls

A person’s health and well-being, as well as their independence, can be significantly threatened by a fall, particularly in the elderly.  The following is a list of tips and suggestions for you or someone you may know to share with, to help minimize their risk of serious injury from a fall.

General Safety:

•  Before standing up from a prone position, remain sitting for a minute to allow time for any dizzy feeling to pass.  After that, stand slowly and wait a moment or two before taking that first step.
•  To avoid that dizzy feeling, first thing in the morning, try sitting on the edge of the bed for a few moments before standing up.
•  If you find yourself feeling unsteady, try using a cane, or a walker, with skid free tips.  Replace these tips as soon as they start to look worn.
•  Watch out for pets. They have been known to jump and frolic, and may cause a stumble at times.
•  Breakfast can be the most important meal of the day.  Hunger can bring on dizzy spells in a person during the early part of the day.
•  Be sure the clothes worn are the proper size.  Clothes that do not fit properly can become trip hazards, and can catch on things causing a person to lose their balance.
•  Keep the floor clear of things like clothes, or newspapers.  These things can be trip hazards, and newspapers can make the floor slippery.
•  Cabinets and drawers that are left open can also be serious problems.  Make sure to close them when not in use.
•  Don’t rush to answer the phone if it rings while you are not close by.  This can cause that dizzy feeling again, and could throw your balance off.
•  If you still find yourself a victim of a fall, be sure to have a phone you can reach to call for help.  A reliable cell phone is one of the best ways.

Bath and Bedroom:

•   Don’t rely on towel, shampoo, or soap holders to stop a fall.  They are not designed to support a person’s weight, and will most likely collapse.
•   Before moving around in the shower, wait for any soap suds to go down the drain.  These suds can make the surface very slippery.
•   Some people can benefit from the use of a shower chair.  If you find yourself with any balance problems, consider investing in one.
•   Be sure to wipe and dry any water that spills out of the tub or sink immediately.
•   As awkward as it may sound, don’t lock the door while in the bathroom.  This could delay any assistance you may need.
•   Keep your closets clean and well organized.  Make sure your clothes are within easy reach.
•  Satin or silk bedding, while being stylish and comfortable, can be slippery.  Consider trading these in for cotton or wool.  They can be just as comfortable without the trip hazards.

Stairs

•  If you can’t see over the top of what you’re carrying, you may be headed for trouble.  Don’t carry anything that blocks your view.
•  Always try to keep one hand on a handrail, or wall, to help balance.
•  When climbing a stairway, especially while carrying something, keep your focus on the stairs. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by noises.

Vision and Lighting

•  If you need glasses, wear them.  Make sure they are the right type, though.  Reading glasses won’t help you see while you are walking.
•  Be sure to take care of your vision with regular eye exams.  If you have glasses, get new ones as soon as you notice your vision getting worse.
•  Use the highest wattage bulb in your lamps and fixtures are designed for.  This will help the light to reach the part of your eye that senses movement.  Using higher wattage bulbs than your fixtures are rated for can be a fire hazard.  Keep this in mind.
•  Always have flashlights and batteries in an easily accessible spot in the event of a power outage.

Medications and Their Side Effects

•  Some medications can give a person dizzy spells.  Always be sure to discuss any possible side effects with your primary care physician or pharmacists, and follow their recommendations.

Sensible Shoes

•  Whenever you purchase a new pair of shoes, be sure to have your feet measured to ensure a proper fit.
•  Make sure any footwear you purchase are sturdy and equipped with non-skid soles.
•  Try to avoid any shoes having extra thick soles.  These can make it difficult to tell when you step on things that may cause trip hazards.
•  Instead of going with the slip-on shoes, get the kind with standard laces and keep those laces tied.
•  If you find yourself having trouble putting your shoes on, consider investing in a long handled shoe-horn.
•  If you are a woman with wide feet, feel free to shop in the men’s department.
•  While walking around barefoot you may feel comfortable, extra long toenails can catch on things and cause trip hazards.  Keep them trimmed.