Fall Prevention: Helping Your Loved Ones Stay Safe

Written by: Carissa Brand, USF Dietetic Intern, University of South Florida College of Public Health

September is national fall prevention month, meaning it’s the perfect time to talk about tips for preventing falls! Falling was once a simple thing in the early stages of life. However, it can get much worse as we age. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones, here are some tips to keep you safe!

Causes of Falls

There are multiple things that can cause falls like weakened eye sight, certain medications, and even confusion. These are also the same things that can be changed to help prevent falls. They may require some time, so make sure to talk to your loved ones about getting started early!

 Tips

Start by having a conversation with your doctor. This conversation should include a discussion about your current medications. It’s important to know whether these medications have side effects like dizziness, tiredness, fatigue, or confusion. From there, you and your doctor can start planning tips to help keep you safe.

Talk to your doctor about is any health conditions that may contribute to a fall. Do you have any conditions that make it difficult to walk or difficulty seeing? This could require a conversation about different ways to keep you safe while keeping you active!

Activity is key in preventing falls because it makes sure that your muscles stay fit. Speak with your doctor about some of the appropriate methods for you to stay active. These may include a walk up the block and back, slow dancing classes, water aerobics, or tai chi.

Before starting any activity or changing your lifestyle, make sure you have the right shoes. Shoes that have slick bottoms may contribute to a slip and fall. Find shoes that are appropriate and sturdy to use while walking around. These may also help with any joint pain you are experiencing.

Make sure to de-clutter your main walking areas. Try to create space between furniture pieces to prevent “a traffic jam” in your house. All of your rugs should be secured to the floor using double-sided tape or the slip-proof mats. Remember, if you spill something, clean it up immediately! If you can’t clean it up yourself, leave a note or close off that area to prevent any falls.

On top of keeping your area clean, make you it’s shining bright like a diamond. This will allow you to see if anything is in your way. Always remember to turn on the lights when entering rooms, you can even get glow-in-the-dark light switches to help you remember. Keep flashlights around the house in case of emergency.

And finally, make your house conducive to you! If there are areas that you’ve been avoiding because of fear of falling, it’s time to make a change. Install hand rails or grab bars on stairs on both sides. If your stairs are hard-wood, there are non-slip pads that can be placed on the stairs to increase grip. Lastly, a shower chair makes a great tool in the shower. Don’t forget to get a hand-held shower nozzle to make showering even easier.

Review

That was a ton of information at one time. Don’t worry, we have an easy list for your quick reference.

  1. Talk to your doctor about medications, health conditions, and appropriate activity.
  2. Make sure you have the right shoes (grippy, comfortable, sturdy).
  3. De-clutter your walking areas.
  4. Brighten up your walking areas (plus flashlights in case of emergencies).
  5. Make your house conducive to you (hand rails, grippy stairs, shower chair).

Sources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, October 4). Fall prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Prevent falls and fractures. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures.

 

 

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