Preventing falls in the home can seem basic: make sure you’ve got the right rugs and non-skid padding to prevent slippery surfaces, install guard rails for older adults, avoid using the steps…but despite increased awareness around efforts like these, falls are still a common problem. More than 271,000 older adults die from falls every year and every 15 seconds, an older adults is seen in the emergency room for a fall-related injury.
“Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults,” says Erin Kemm, physical therapist with Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Program. “Many patients and their families do not realize that there are some simple steps that can be taken to decrease the risk of a fall happening within or around the home.”
Below are some examples of what older adults and their caretakers or family members can do to help prevent falls and thus fall related injuries.
Check your medication
Feeling dizzy? It may not be your fault. Some medications list dizziness as a side effect, which could increase the risk of falling. During visits with your primary care doctor, bring a list of all of your medications along to make sure that these medications aren't putting you at a greater risk.
Exercise might not seem conducive to preventing falls. After all, aren’t you more likely to fall if you’re on the move? Not necessarily. Try low-intensity workouts like walking, swimming, or yoga. You should look for an exercise that promotes slow movements to help improve your balance and coordination. Get approval from your doctor, no matter how gentle your exercise is.
Skip the slippers
High heels and sandals aren’t the only shoes that put you at a greater risk for falling. Try to avoid slippers or socks when you’re around the house and look for a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes with non-skid soles.
Let there be light
It’s easy for anyone to fall if there’s no light in the house. Keep lamps within reach of the bed or sofa, and install night lights in the bedroom and bathroom. You should also keep a flashlight within reach in the event that you lose electricity.
Get the right equipment
It goes without saying, but having the right equipment in your home to prevent falls is important. Install grab bars in bathtubs and showers, use hand rails on both sides of the stairway, and look for non-skid rugs to place on wood floors.
Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital offers outpatient physical rehabilitation throughout the region. Visit our website for a full list of Bryn Mawr Rehab outpatient locations.