According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over three million older adults are treated in emergency departments each year for fall-related injuries. Not only can falls cause serious injuries such as broken bones and head injuries, but they can also lead to an increased fear of falling. This can affect your daily activities and ultimately impact the way you live your life.
How Can You Prevent Falls at Home?
Due to the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many people will be spending a significant amount of time at home. Because over 50% of falls occur in the home, fall prevention has become even more relevant over the past few weeks. It is important to assess your home set-up for potential fall hazards and make modifications as needed to decrease your risk of falling.
A list of potential hazards and modifications can be found below. Many of these modifications are simple and inexpensive and can help make your home a safe place for you and your loved ones.
In Your Living Room:
- Carpeting – Make sure all area rugs are properly arranged with no up-turned corners or edges. If you find that you frequently trip over your rug, consider removing it.
- Remove clutter – Consider adding additional shelves or storage containers to decrease the amount of clutter that can cause trips and falls.
- Loose electric cords – Run cords behind furniture or along walls whenever possible. Move electric items closer to outlets to decrease the amount of floor or wall space the cord will cover.
In Your Bedroom:
- Use a nightlight – Nightlights can provide improved visibility, which is important if you are an early riser or find yourself getting up frequently in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Additionally, consider putting nightlights in the hallway outside your room.
- Move your phone next to the bed – Many older adults have experienced falls when getting out of bed to answer the phone in a different part of the house. Consider keeping a cordless phone or your cell phone next to your bed, within arms’ reach.
- Keep items you often reach for next to the bed – This may include remote controls, eyeglasses, cell phones, lamps, magnifying glasses and glasses of water. Keep these items on a bedside table, if possible.
- Check the height of your bed – If you find yourself having difficulty getting out of bed, your bed may be too low or too high. If it is too low, you may need to add blocks underneath the frame. If it is too high, consider removing the bed frame or using a lower profile mattress.
- Purchase a half bed rail – If you have difficulty getting out of bed, you may benefit from buying a half bedrail. These can be found on websites like Target.com or Amazon.com.
In Your Bathroom
- Bath rugs – Remove bath rugs or add a non-skid rug to prevent slips and falls.
- Bath mat – If your tub is slippery, purchase non-slip treads or a non-slip rubber bath mat to place in the tub.
- Tub/shower modifications – Consider the addition of grab bars in the shower. This will allow you to steady yourself while in the shower, especially when closing your eyes. You can also add shower bars near the tub to assist when entering and exiting the tub. Additionally, you can consider adding a bench or using a step stool for safer entry/exit. If you find that you have difficulty maintaining your balance while in the shower, try adding a shower chair.
- Toilet height – If you have difficulty standing up from the toilet, consider adding grab bars for assistance. You can also purchase a raised toilet seat.
The Entrance to Your home
- Railings – If possible, add at least one railing if you have stairs to enter your home.
- Cracked Steps and Sidewalks – Repair all cracked steps/sidewalks. If this is not possible, consider outlining the area with a bright colored paint to alert guests.
- Lighting – Replace lightbulbs as needed, and consider adding a motion-sensing light
- Ice or Snow – Use rock salt to prevent icing. Consider purchasing “ice cleats” for your shoes.
What Else Can I Do to Prevent Falls?
- Monitor yourself for symptoms of dizziness. If you are experiencing dizziness on a regular basis, let us know!
- Here at FYZICAL, we see patients with dizziness all the time and can help you resolve your issue quickly and safely.
- If you find that you get dizzy when arising from bed, sit on the edge of the bed for several minutes before attempting to stand up and start walking.
- If you become dizzy when you stand up, stand still in place for several minutes before you attempt to start walking.
- Get your eyes checked at least once a year to ensure that any vision deficits can be addressed.
- Stay active! Regular exercise can help improve your strength and balance.
- Finally, don’t rush! Your safety is more important than anything.
As the COVID-19 continues to evolve, we at FYZICAL are here for you. We value your safety and well-being and are happy to address any concerns that you may have. You can request an appointment by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at 301-948-4395.