Like many older adults, you probably enjoy being in your own home and plan to live there as long as possible. But did you know that according to the National Council on Aging one in four American adults 65 or older is injured in a fall every year? In fact, at Main Line Health trauma centers our number one patient admissions come from falls and fall-related injuries.
For older adults living at home, injuries from falls can sometimes lead to more serious problems and can even be life-threatening. On the other hand, many falls are preventable, with balance disorders such as vertigo (a common condition that creates a feeling of spinning) often being a factor. Balance disorders are treatable so be sure to talk to your doctor about treatments and lifestyle changes to improve your balance and prevent from falling at home.
Take an inventory of home falling risks and make changes
Think about your ability to see, hear and move about in your own home. Is everything perfectly accessible to you? Do you have to maneuver between furniture to get to what you need on a daily basis? Are boxes piled up? Or is there simply clutter, like a bunch of papers stacked right where you would reach over to put down your coffee cup?
All of these little inconveniences could in fact set you up for a quick movement or sudden jerk that sends you toppling over. And that’s before we’ve even gotten to the curled edges of that hallway runner!
Think about your ability to see, hear and move about in your own home. Do you have to maneuver between furniture to get to what you need on a daily basis? These little inconveniences could set you up for a quick movement or sudden jerk that sends you toppling over.
So grab a pen and paper and start at your front door, going from room to room, scanning from top to bottom, wall to wall, outlet to outlet. Make changes to anything that is:
- Poorly located. Reposition it, find it a new home, or get rid of it.
- Not at the right height. Switch it to a lower shelf or find it a different spot.
- Jumbled with other things. Disentangle and declutter, if only in one area.
- No longer of use or infrequently used. Remove it from view.
- Sticks up or out, whether from the floor or into the room. Create clear paths.
And while you’re at it, get those garbage and giveaway bags out! Work with a friend or family member to take this project on.
To prevent from falling at home, think of the obvious tripping hazards like electrical cords and throw rugs, and make simple improvements such as adding nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways. Also think about:
- Storing or placing items you use every day within easy reach
- Installing grab bars in the bathtub and next to the toilet
- Having handrails installed on both sides of stairways and walkways
There are also some simple modifications you can make whether it’s switching to a drawer-style refrigerator or replacing doorknobs with lever handles.
How vestibular therapy can help you regain balance
Vestibular therapy at Bryn Mawr Rehab gives patients the tools to successfully manage their symptoms such as feeling dizzy or woozy. We individually evaluate each patient to determine appropriate treatment which may include a range of physical and occupational therapy techniques such as:
- Sensorimotor retraining—introduces balance techniques
- Visual exercises—improves ability to maintain gaze while in motion
- Home exercises—enables independent condition management
- Patient/family education—teaches how to identify dizziness triggers and develop strategies to minimize effects
Join us for an upcoming falls prevention program
Do you have concerns about falling? Many older adults express concerns about falling and restricting their activities. We have many programs designed to improve balance, manage falls and increase activity levels.
Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.