Avoid a fall
Falls are always unpleasant and may sometimes result in bone fractures. When we are young and we fall, we spring right back, however as we age, recovery is not as expedient.
We treat many patients who have fallen and broken their hips. When we hear their stories, most of the time, the fall could have been prevented.
There are simple steps that we can all take to prevent falls. In this presentation I will be covering a variety of suggestions to avoid falls.
Decreased balance is a strong predictor of falls.
If you have suffered a stroke, have multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, have decreased sensation in hands and feet due to diabetes, suffer from vertigo, or another medical ailment that impairs your balance you can be at an increased risk for falls, and may need to take extra precautions. But we can all fall at any given time.
Here are some tips that may help you avoid a fall.
- You may have weak muscles in the trunk or legs which may make you more vulnerable. A good exercise program to keep you in good shape is essential to maintain strength and flexibility. The exercise program should include the trunk, legs and arms. may have difficulty seeing clearly and may need glasses, we may have difficulty with depth perception and need to be extra careful when trying to navigate going up and down a curb or steps.
- You may be light headed due to problems with your inner ear, or due to side effects of some medications, both can be treated or regulated and improved. However, if you get light headed when changing positions you should always be careful to sit up for a minute, until you are no longer light headed before attempting to walk.
- There are also environmental factors that contribute to us losing our balance. Look around your home and make your home fall proof. Look at your floors. Make sure your remove any clutter that may cause you to trip and fall. If you have any extension cords, or phone cords lying across your floor, remove them.
- If there are any wet areas because of a dripping drain or spills, make sure you clean them right away or have a receptacle to collect the liquid.
- Lighting should be adequate inside and outside. Don’t overlook halls, stairways and entrances.
Avoid using throw rugs and other floor coverings that can slip or that you can trip on. If you must have them, be sure to secure the edges.
- Shiny tile floors can be extremely slippery, be careful. You may consider having tile floors that are more rugged.
Indoor and outdoor stairways must have railings. It is good policy to hold on these railings when going up and down the stairs.
- It is a good idea if you have difficulty sitting down or arising to install grab bars by bathtubs, showers, and toilets.
If you have a pet, make sure you know where your pet is at all times, pets get very excited and they may get in front of you or entangled in your feet, take your time. Make sure you calm your pet. Make sure where your pet is when you get out of bed at night, they might be sleeping in your path, and you might trip on them.
- Make sure you wear well fitted shoes, preferable with non skid soles.
- Tasks which are complex can also compromise our balance. If you are attempting to do a task which is precarious, such as going up a ladder to reach for something or change a light bulb, make sure you position the ladder safely and get help, if you need to, or better yet you might want to get someone else to do it.
- If you are fearful of performing an activity or lack confidence in your ability to perform it, then it might be better to find an alternative. Example, you are trying to cross a busy street and don’t know if you can make it fast enough, then try to cross it at another place where it is not as busy, go with someone else, or find another alternative. If you are fearful of staying alone at night, you might be nervous when hearing noises and be more prompt to being hasty and falling, have a plan, what will you do if you hear noises, who would you call, etc.At night, always leave a night light on to light the way between your room and the bathroom.
- Make sure your clothing is not too long, when you pull your clothes down to go to use the toilet, you may step on your own clothing and trip. Shorten your nightwear.
- If you feel depressed sometimes you become careless and don’t take care of things around the house, or not pay to much attention to what you are doing, be careful, be especially aware.
- If you are isolated, plan ahead how will you get things done, don’t try to do everything or take chances.
Some people are dare devils and like to engage in dangerous behaviors, riding motorcycles, jumping out of airplanes, know your limitations, if you do not feel confident, don’t do it.
- If you need a cane, use it.
- If you need glasses or a hearing aid wear them.
Be careful. Take your time. Many falls happen when we are distracted, or doing several things at once. Like talking on the phone going up and down the stairs, holding on to a glass of water in one hand and the phone on the other. Be aware, do one thing at a time.
- Being in a hurry can be a factor in pre disposing the person to fall. Emergencies cannot be avoided but there are other times we can plan ahead. For example, during hurricane season, don’t wait until there is a hurricane to get your shutters, have them out or partially put them up, make sure you have a foolproof plan on how those shutters are going to go up, many falls happen at that time.
If you would like more information on our fall prevention program and how Physical Therapy may help you improve your balance and reduce your risk for falls, please give us a call at 305-412-9099.