March 12, 2021
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Prevention of Falls at Home – Steps You Can Take to Prevent Falling

Prevention of falls is not usually top of mind, but it is better to be proactive than reactive in this case. Why wait for a loved one to fall and risk injury, if there is a way to reduce the risk of this outcome? As our parents and loved ones age, normal changes greatly increase their risk of fall and injury. Today we discuss the steps you can take to help them prevent a fall.

Falling can put your loved one in harm's way and may result in serious injury and hospitalization. They likely need a few measures for prevention of falls that include hazard-proofing their residence, improving strength and balance, and talking with their primary care provider or pharmacist about the medications they take regularly.

According to the World Health Organization falls are among the second leading cause of unintentional injury or accidental deaths in the world. Adults aged 65 and older experience the greatest number of fatal falls.   

There is simply not enough attention paid to fall prevention in the elderly and strategies that emphasize creating safer environments for them. We want to address some of these and why it's important to see whether medications can play a role in fall risk management.  

Implement Strategies for Prevention of Falls  

Prevention of falls is important for this mans fututre.

One of the first things you should pay attention to is your loved one's medication. This is due to a variety of symptoms/side effects that can be caused by medications or drug interactions. These symptoms can include low blood pressure, dizziness, changes in vision and reduced balance among others. Take action by making an appointment with their physician or pharmacist.

Be sure to have their list of medications written out. Include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and supplements to check for any interactions. Doctors are so specialized here in the US that you may see one doctor for your heart, one for your kidneys and have a separate primary care provider. They may unknowingly prescribe medications that do not interact well together.

If your loved one has fallen recently, be sure to mention this. Describe the situation, cause and symptoms surrounding the fall if possible.

Mention any health conditions are they currently struggling with ie. hard of hearing, low vision, dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness in your legs and feet, joint paint, etc.  

Making Your Home Safe to Prevent Falling

You do not necessarily have to do a full home remodel to improve the safety of the home.

Here are some ways to prevent falls:  

  • Remove tripping hazards – Check every room, halfway and other areas to see if there are throw rugs, loose carpets, or even floorboards that are not even. Repair and replace where needed. If possible, remove throw rugs all together. Securing them to the floor with a non skid grip such as dycem is an acceptable alternative.
  • Clear up clutter – Be sure to get rid of all clutter. Anything that narrows a walkway presents an increased fall risk. Too much furniture can really be a hazard. A storage unit is much cheaper than a fall that results in a hospital stay. Selling or donating unnecessary furniture is an even better choice. Magazines and old newspapers lying around present additional clutter as well. Remove them. Remove anything on staircases or in hallways.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that is too loose. While it is nice to be comfortable when at home, baggy clothes can get caught on door handles or furniture and result in a fall. Choose hemmed clothing that doesn't drag on the ground.   
  • Install handrails and grab bars where possible – These handy safety devices mean a lot when it comes to maintaining your balance. They help when you need to get onto the toilet or step out of your bathtub. Handrails along the stairways are just as important to steady yourself as you go up or down the staircase.  
  • Adequate lighting: Another major hazard that may lead to falling is inadequate lighting. Make it your mission to install brighter light bulbs, especially in narrow areas of your home.  
  • Wear proper footwear – It sure is comfortable walking around your home with your socks on, but these present a slipping risk. One way to prevent falling is to wear shoes or use non-slip socks.  
  • Make use of non-slip mats – Showers and bathtubs are problem areas, and the same can be said of kitchen flooring. These are the most common areas to be be wet. Using non-slip mats would be a wise move for the prevention of falls.   
  • Move slowly but surely – Getting up too quickly or moving from one area to another in a hurry can lead to a fall, particularly in the elderly. This is due to normal changes to blood pressure with age or low blood pressure in the elderly. Rather take your time and pause for a bit once you get up from sitting or before you ascend or descent on stairs to prevent the possibility of falling.   

The Importance of Regular Eye Checkups for Prevention of Falls  

Man who did not learn from prevention of falling in the elderly at home and tripped on stairs

If your loved ones are wearing spectacles, be sure their current prescription is up to date and the glasses they're wearing are right for them.

Bear in mind that wearing transition tinted glasses may turn out to be hazardous when you move from a brighter area outside into darkened homes. A simple remedy is to pause for a while at the front entrance so your lenses may adjust to the different light conditions.   

Bifocals may result in misjudging issues that can be problematic where stairs or changes in flooring are involved. When possible, opt for a place where everything is on one level with no stairs. If this is not an option, use hand rails and go slow when initiating a trip up or down stairs.   

Prevention of falls is a concern for the children of elderly loved ones. If you notice that your elderly parent regularly holds onto furniture or walls when walking, it can be an indication they need to book an appointment with a physical therapist for strength exercises and balance training

For more ideas to make an elderly loved one's home safer to prevent falls, consult the home assessment checklist offered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 

For a free copy of 11 Common Fall Hazards in the Home and Solutions
And a free copy of the Static Balance Home Exercise Progression.
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That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


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