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Fall Prevention
With the first official day of fall just around the corner, we thought it timely to pull together this blog post on Fall Prevention.  Did you know that 70% of accidental deaths in people over the age of 75 result from falls? Or that 40% of all nursing home admissions are attributable to repeated falls at home? It’s important to know some of the factors that may lead to falls.  This post will offer some tips on how to prevent falls, and some pointers on what to do in case of a fall.

Some external factors that are commonly attributed to falls:
  • Four or more medications
  • Poor lighting
  • Unstable chairs
  • Steep stairs
  • Loose carpets
  • Lack of bathroom safety equipment
Some ‘internal’ factors, or medical conditions that may lead to falls include:
  • Weakness/ tightness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Neurological Diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis of the knees or hips
  • Osteoporosis
Now that you have a good idea of some of the factors that may attribute to a fall, it’s important to know some things that can be done to prevent a fall:
  1. Do a ‘Brown Bag Review’: Bring all of the medications that you are currently taking to your primary physician. The goal is to be sure that there are not any contraindications of any of the medications and to see if there are any medications affecting your balance
  2. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Exercise can help with strength and balance.  Talk with your doctor about having a physical therapy evaluation to set up a home PT program
  3. Eliminate unsafe clothing and footwear: Wear well-fitting slippers with non-slip soles, and avoid clothing that drags on the floor.
  4. Trouble reaching overhead? Bring commonly used things down to lower shelves, to avoid reaching or over-extending and causing one to lost balance.
  5. Trouble picking up objects from the floor? Sweep the object closer to something sturdy, or use a ‘grabber’ to pick up the object.
  6. Use caution while bathing and getting in and out of the tub: A home safety evaluation can be performed.  It may be a good idea to add grab bars to shower walls, use a bath chair & hand-held shower head, and use non-slip tub mats.
  7. If you experience difficulty of getting in and out of chairs, or experience “head rushes” when you stand too quickly: Avoid sitting on low furniture, and be sure to select chairs with arms.  Rise slowly, and count to 5 before moving.
  8. Use an assistive device like a quad- cane or walker if you are feeling unbalanced.
  9. Avoid tripping hazards: Be sure throw rugs are taped down, secured with a non-slip mat underneath, or remove them all together. Be sure to de-clutter your walking space to have a clear-path.
  10. Keep your pathways well lit: Add nightlights where overhead lighting is lacking and in bathrooms and hallways, add bright tape strips to the edge of each stair, and keep a charged flashlight near your bed.
IF YOU FALL... Don’t panic and don’t attempt to get up if you are hurt.

If You Are Hurt
  • Use emergency alarm if wearing one
  • If no alarm, call out for help or slide to the telephone and dial 911
  • Move to a soft surface such as a carpet if you have fallen on a concrete, tile or wooden floor
  • Keep yourself warm until help arrives
  • Move in ways that don’t cause pain to avoid pressure sores and to help maintain body temperature.
  • Helpful Hint: Store a small blanket and a bottle of water in each room you typically occupy.
If You Are Not Hurt
  • Roll onto your stomach and attempt to get to your hands and knees
  • Crawl to stable piece of furniture (bed, stool, chair without rollers or casters)
  • Approach support from front and place both hands on surface
  • With both hands on the support, place foot of stronger leg flat on floor
  • Lean forward as you begin to push yourself up with your hands while bringing your feet side-by-side
  • Slowly turn and sit on the support, take some time to compose yourself and double check to make sure you are not injured.
Happier at Home provides companion caregivers who can stand-by to make sure your loved ones are safe while they are showering and moving about.  We’d be happy to discuss our services with you further if you feel your older loved one is at risk of falling.
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