In-Home Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Falls

reduce your risk of falling

HOW MANAGING YOUR OWN HEALTH CAN REDUCE YOUR RISK OF FALLING:


1.  If you get dizzy or lightheaded on coming to sitting or standing, you should move slowly into these positions.  Pause before pursuing activity.

2.  If you think a medicine you are taking makes you dizzy or lightheaded or affects your balance, talk with your physician or pharmacist.  Ask if you can take a lower dose or substitute a different medication with a lower risk for contributing to falls.

3.  If you get dizzy or unsteady in picking up objects from the floor, purchase a long-handled reacher so you can avoid bending over.


4.  Have regular visual exams to insure that your vision is maximally corrected.  Remove bifocals when walking if you tend to look down at the floor to walk.  Remove bifocals when going down or up stairs, or look through the part of the lens that is for distant vision.

5.  Use one or more nightlights to light your path to the bathroom at night.  If you have balance problems, walking in the dark greatly increases your risk for falling.  If you are sleeping at a relative’s home or other new environment, keep a nightlight on to help orient you when you wake up during the night.

6.  Avoid long clothing (such as gowns, housecoats or robes) that drag the floor and may cause you to trip.

7.  Wear proper footwear.  Generally, sturdy shoes with a closed back, non-slip sole and minimal heel height are best.  Avoid high heeled shoes.  Avoid shoes with crepe soles as these may stick to the floor and cause you to pitch forward.

8.  If your ankles and feet are chronically swollen, ask your physician if elastic stockings would be helpful.  Swelling of the feet decreases sensory input from your toes and ankles that tell you where your feet are and how much pressure you are putting on each part of the foot.

9.  If you have ulcers or sores on your feet, be sure you alert your physician or podiatrist so they can be treated.

10.  If you have diabetes, follow your physician’s recommendations for optimal control.  Controlling your diabetes helps preserve the sensory feedback from your feet and ankles that is important in maintaining balance.  Good control of diabetes also reduces the risk for amputations.

11.  Avoid or minimize your use of alcohol and sleeping medications.  Over the counter sleeping medications (which contain diphenhyramine or Benadryl) can significantly increase your risk for falling.  
Prescription sleep medications, used sparingly, may be safer than over the counter sleeping aides.

12.  If you have a bladder control problem, consult your physician for treatment to avoid the risk of slipping in urine.  Kegel’s exercises are helpful for many individuals who suffer from stress incontinence or leakage when laughing, coughing or exerting oneself.

13.  When sitting down, always place both hands back on the chair onto which you are sitting.  Sit slowly to protect your back from compression fractures and to keep your thigh muscles strong.  Your dining chair should be a chair with armrests.

14.  Avoid putting on underwear or pants while standing.  Doing this can easily cause loss of balance and a fall.  Sit to put on or take off slacks, shorts and underwear.

15.  Avoid pulling sweaters, blouses, shirts, undershirts or any type of top over your head while standing.  Even momentary loss of visual cues while pulling a garment over your head can cause loss of balance.  This can be especially dangerous if you have neuropathy.  Sit to put on or take off clothes that have to be pulled over the head.

16.  Stay as active as you can.  Inactivity leads to weakness and decreased balance reactions.  Use the appropriate walking aide to give you the sense of steadiness and security to stay mobile.



HOW CREATING A SAFE ENVIRONMENT CAN REDUCE YOUR RISK OF FALLING:


1.  Keep floors free of clutter.  Remove all loose wires and electric cords in traffic areas.  Keep pathways clear.

2.  Remove or reduce the number of throw rugs and scatter rugs.  Place double sided tape under the edges of area rugs to avoid the toes or walker legs from catching on them if you do not take them up.  Insure that area rugs have non-slip backing or tack them to the floor.  Avoid use of polishes or waxes on floors.

3.  Clean up spills immediately.

4.  Insure that stairwells are well lit with light switches at the top and bottom.  Install handrails on both sides.

5.  Install grab bars on the bathroom walls beside the tub, shower and toilet.  Bars can also be installed directly onto the toilet.  If you live in Raleigh or Wake County and need help installing grab bars, you can contact:  Resources for Seniors:  919-872-7933 or www.resourcesforseniors.com. Use a non-skid rubber mat in the tub or shower.  Purchase a plastic stool or chair with non-skid legs for the shower or tub and use a hand-held shower head.

6.  Place light switches within easy reach of your bed.  Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed.

7.  If you live alone, consider wearing a personal emergency response system (Lifeline).  Sources for subscribing to this service include Rex Response (919-784-6339) and Phillips Lifeline (1-800-451-0525).

8.  In your kitchen and bathroom, keep frequently used items within easy reach to minimize stooping or climbing to reach them.  Rearrange or ask family members or friends to rearrange kitchen, bathroom and garage storage areas.



HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF INJURY IN THE EVENT OF A FALL:


1.  Ask your physician if you should be on a medication to reduce your risk of or progression of osteoporosis.  Your physician may recommend a bone density test to help make this decision.

2.  If your risk for falling is significant, pad sharp corners of furniture.  Corner and edge pads can be obtained from stores specializing in baby products.

3.  If your risk for falling is significant, consider wearing high density foam rubber hip protectors which will protect against hip fracture in the event of a fall.  You can review styles of hip protectors at:  www.AliMed.com.

4.  Obtain a referral from your physician for physical and/or occupational therapy.  Strengthening and balance exercises, along with insuring a safe home environment can decrease your risk for falling or the frequency of falling while increasing your capacity for safe mobility.