Careful Steps Fall Prevention
Falls are the leading cause of injury death among people age 65 and older.
Alacare Home health & Hospice has developed a comprehensive program designed to reduce the risk of falls by increasing patient safety called Careful Steps.
Neurological examination and medication review are performed, and each patient is assessed for:
- Fall history
- Orthostatic hypotension
- Gait, balance, mobility and muscle weakness
- Loss of sensation in lower extremities
- Osteoporosis implications
- Visual impairment
- Perceived functional ability and fear of falling
- Cognitive impairment
- Home hazards
Here are six simple fall-prevention strategies.
Step 1 – Make an appointment with your doctor
Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling.
- Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
- Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.
Step 2 – Keep moving
With your doctor’s approval, activities such as walking can reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
If you avoid physical activity because you’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.
Step 3 – Wear sensible shoes
Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall.
Step 4 – Remove home hazards
To make your home safer:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
Step 5 – Light up your living space
Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
- Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
Step 6 –Use assistive devices
Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:
- Hand rails for both sides of stairways
- Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
- A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
- Grab bars for the shower or tub
- A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down
If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. If you are homebound, an Alacare Therapist may be able to visit you in your home.