Falling—Primer for Avoiding It
This video quickly summarizes a number of fall risk factors and means for avoiding falls.
Risk factors include:
- Side effects of medications
- Alcohol (Older people may have a lowered tolerance for alcohol, and when they combine it with many medications, may be at greater risk.)
- Many acute and chronic illnesses such as heart problems, ear infections, diabetes, foot problems, dementia and Parkinson's disease (In fact, falls may be a sign of an underlying illness, and therefore should always be followed up with a doctor's visit.)
- Stairs, doorways and curbs, especially if any are wet or icy
- Bathrooms with throw rugs, insufficient grab bars around tubs, showers and toilets, or lacking a non-skid shower mat
- Poor lighting (too much glare or too little illumination)
- Improper footwear (Look for nonskid, non-friction shoes) and failing to sit while putting shoes on
- Unstable furniture (chairs on castors, unlocked hospital beds)
- Improperly used walking assistive devices such as walkers and canes
- Changes in floor surfaces, such as moving from carpet to tile
- Getting in and out of chairs, beds and cars
You can prevent many falls by doing the opposite of items listed above, such as making sure lighting is adequate, grab bars are in place, etc. Other tips include:
- Exercise for balance and strength training
- Have a pharmacist evaluate your medications
- Keep the environment free of hazards and offer assistance to anyone who is unsteady. (This
- includes keeping small unstable furniture against walls)
- Avoid going out in icy weather
Applying the video to your own situation
With regard to yourself or your loved one:
- What are the environmental fall hazards in your home and neighborhood? What can you do to eliminate them?
- Do you (or those you care for) engage in risky behaviors, perhaps without realizing it? (For example, by not having your medications evaluated) What can you change?
- Do you have any illnesses or conditions that put you at risk for falls?
- Do you do any strength or balance training? How often?
- In what situations do you feel least confident or safe? How might you increase your confidence or safety?
Adapted from: Injury Prevention for The Elderly: Preventing Falls; Bonnie Walker, Rehoboth Beach, DE
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You can prevent many falls using techniques such as exercise for balance and strength training.