By Beth Jennings, PT, MPT
Many falls in the home cause little to no injury, except maybe to your pride. On the other hand, a fall can cause a head injury, broken bones, and a loss of independence. This can be particularly worrisome to older adults and their families.
As we age, sometimes the fear of falling can lessen daily activity, create weakness, and increase the likelihood of falling.
More than 25% of community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older fall annually. Emergency departments treat 3 million older adults for injuries related to falls each year.
FYZICAL - Forest Grove wants to help you maintain independence at any age and avoid becoming one of these statistics.
When Your Home Trips You Up
Health issues such as leg weakness, dizziness, or poor balance, can result in falls. Our physical therapists at FYZICAL specialize in addressing your balance complaints.
But environmental factors, such as a wet floor, clutter on the stairs, or an icy sidewalk, can also cause falls. Often, falls are a combination of both health issues and environmental factors.
Prevention is a powerful tool, so create a safer home for you or the older adults in your life with these tips.
1. Remove loose throw rugs. Secure area rugs and assure edges are not curled or damaged.
2. Keep pathways free of clutter, such as shoes, books, and pet dishes.
3. Remove excess furniture, particularly if they narrow the pathways.
4. Organize and contain wires and cords to keep them out of pathways.
5. Wipe up spills immediately. Keep a lightweight mop or long-handled tool handy if reaching the floor is difficult.
6. Mark any raised doorsills with paint or reflective tape.
7. Get uneven flooring repaired. If unable, light it well and mark it.
8. Keep a bedside lamp within easy reach.
9. Consider installing an extra phone at floor level in case of a fall.
10. Light the pathway to the bathroom with a nightlight.
11. Use bedspreads that don’t slide off the bed easily or go without one.
12. Keep a flashlight in common rooms in case of a power outage.
13. Use nonslip mats in front of the shower and sink.
14. Use a nonslip rubber mat or self-stick strips inside smooth showers/tubs.
15. Clean the floor of shower or tub regularly. Soap scum can be slippery.
17. Consider a shower chair and a raised toilet seat if these tasks are difficult.
18. Store frequently used items between shoulder and hip height.
19. Try a reacher grabber tool for lightweight items just out of reach.
20. If a stepstool is necessary, use one with a handrail. Do not use a chair.
21. Remove any clutter from stairs, such as mail, shoes, and supplies.
22. Install handrails that run the full length of the stairs on both sides.
23. Consider contrasting non-slip tape or paint to the edges of stairs for increased visibility.
24. Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
25. Have any loose or broken steps repaired.
26. Level uneven dirt or gravel surfaces of common pathways.
27. Repair any loose bricks, stone, or other outdoor surfaces of commonly used areas.
28. In the winter, have walkways cleared of snow and ice.
29. In the fall, have leaves removed from walkways.
30. Keep the path to the garbage area clear and free of obstacles.
31. Review stair recommendations for outdoor stairs.
32. Consider having a ramp installed, if mobility is an issue.
Which of these are you going to address today?
For more information on preventing falls:
September is FYZICAL’s Fight The Fall Campaign
Do you want a baseline measurement of your balance to compare to as you age?
Are you concerned you are at risk for falling?
Have you already fallen and want to clear picture of your balance?
A free balance screening event will take place in our office from Sept 19-23. Call us for more information.
Beth Jennings, PT, MPT is a freelance writer and a physical therapist.
Disclaimer This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Facts About Falls. August 6, 2021.