Elderly and people with disabilities that affect movement and coordination are at risk for falling at home. Falls can be dangerous causing broken bones or other complications. Fortunately, steps can be taken to prevent falls and make the home a safer place.
If you’ve fallen in the past, be sure to speak with your doctor and get checked for injuries. In addition, speaking with your doctor about fall prevention can provide valuable insights. All health care providers take preventing falls in elderly and disabled people seriously as they can lead to bigger health concerns.
Avoiding Falls at Home
Some simple lifestyle changes can help prevent falls at home. Begin by following these tips:
· Promptly clean or mop up spills
· Get rid of clutter, trim fraying carpet, avoid trailing wires
· Use non-slip mats and rugs
· Use high watt bulbs so you can see everything
· Set up your home to keep climbing, stretching, and bending are kept to a minimum and to avoid bumping into things
· Get help to do things that would be unsafe to do alone
· Wear shoes or slippers with non-slip soles
· Avoid wearing clothes that trail and may trip you
· Wear shoes that fit well and support your ankle
· Take care of your feet
Strength and Balance Training
Improving strength and balance is one of the best ways to prevent falls. Simple activities such as walking or dancing can greatly improve strength and balance. You may be able to find specialized programs at your local gym or community center. Before beginning and conditioning program, speak with your doctor to ensure the program is tailored specifically to your needs.
Another option to consider is Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a series of gentle movements done in coordination and a specific sequence to make a form. While it is a martial art, no physical contact is involved. Many elderly people find Tai Chi quite beneficial.
Many elderly and disabled people are on several long-term medications. Be sure you review the complete list of your medications at least once a year to be sure they’re still right for you. In some cases, the side effects of a medication may increase the chances of a fall and your doctor may make adjustments to reduce that risk. If you haven’t had your medications reviewed in more than year, consider setting up an appointment with your doctor.
Poor vision can add to the risk of falling. Even if you already wear glasses, if you feel like you’re having trouble seeing potential tripping hazards, get a vision test. While certain vision problems can be treated, many can be corrected with glasses or surgery.
Assess Your Home for Hazards
While you can begin this process yourself, a healthcare professional with expertise in fall prevention can increase home safety. This professional will visit your home and assess both the living conditions and how you interact with your living environment. Based on this assessment, they will recommend ways to make the living environment safer. Some suggestions may include bathroom bars or a personal safety alarm.
Alcohol can cause loss of coordination and exaggerate the side effects of some medications. These effects can increase the likelihood of falling. Reducing or removing alcohol intake can reduce the risk of falling as well as decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.