Home Safety and Fall Prevention

Published: June 26, 2014

Falls are a serious health concern with the senior population. Each year, one in three adults age 65 and over experience a fall. Every 18 seconds, an adult goes to the emergency room due to a fall and falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions. Women are more likely to fall than men, but men are more likely to die from falls. In 2010, there were 21,700 deaths in the United States related to falls.

Risk factors for fall include increased age, being female, having low body weight, and having a history of previous falls. In addition, orthostatic hypotension (quick drops in blood pressure), incontinence, vision deficits, confusion/cognitive deficits, and the use of certain medications can cause falls. Falling can occur from a decline in balance, in coordination, in ability to get up from a chair or bed, or declining walking quality can cause falls. Furthermore, alcohol use, wearing inappropriate footwear, and having hazards in the home may cause falls.

Falls and possible injury can be decreased or eliminated by the following:

  • Regular exercise makes you stronger and improves balance and coordination.
  • Decrease risk of fracture my maintaining a diet with adequate Vitamin D and calcium
  • Medical equipment such as walkers, canes, etc., should be properly sized by a qualified professional.
  • Have your doctor/pharmacist look at all of your medicines, even over the counter medicines. Some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and some should not be mixed with others.
  • Have your vision checked at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.
  • Get up slowly after you sit or lie down. Some medicines and conditions can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy with quick position changes.
  • Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles and avoid slippers and athletic shoes with thick soles.
  • Keep emergency numbers in large print near the phone.
  • Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall or become ill.
  • Improve the lighting in your home by using brighter bulbs. Use lamp shades to reduce glare.
  • It is safest to have uniform lighting in a room. Add lighting to dark areas. Hang light weight curtains to reduce glare from bright windows and doors.

Physical and occupational therapists are trained to help you prevent falls. The therapists can help you get stronger, improve your balance, improve coordination, and improve your walking. They can also asses and make suggestions on how to improve any hazards in your home and suggest equipment that will reduce the risk of falls. The therapy staff at Passavant Community is available on an outpatient basis by calling (724) 452-3492 or via home health services by calling (877) 862-6659.

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