Often when an elderly individual has to leave their home to reside in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility it is due to a fall or being a high fall risk. Falls can result in many problems that are detrimental to health. Broken bones—particularly hips—lead to lengthy hospital stays and potentially a dramatic decline in overall health status in the elderly. Use these five tips to help prevent falls to help keep you or your loved one safe.
1. Wear Good Shoes
Don’t go slipping and sliding around the house! When walking around the house, especially on hardwood or tile floors, be sure to wear non-slip socks or shoes with good traction on the bottom. Walking in sock feet increases the likelihood of slipping and falling even if your balance is great to begin with. Many house shoes are now made with a thick sole that provides good traction for walking in the house and memory foam insoles are a pleasant bonus.
2. Throw the Throw Rugs Out
While rugs are very pretty and help add to the aesthetic of your home, they are responsible for a significant number of falls. Feet can get hung under the rug, tripping you up and leading to a fall. Small throw rugs are very likely to cause falls, so it is best to put them up to stay safe. No home decor is worth the cost of your independent lifestyle.
3. Watch Out for Pets
Cats and dogs can be great companions for the elderly, but they can increase the risk for a fall. It is not recommended to get rid of yours or your family member’s pet, but it is important to try and train furry friends to not run underneath feet or jump on people. Dogs and cats tangling under the feet of an individual who already has balance issues is a recipe for disaster. Remaining aware of where your pets are can help prepare you to brace yourself should they run under your feet.
4. Take Your Time
The majority of falls are due to individuals trying to transition between positions too quickly. It makes it more difficult when adding other ailments such as orthostatic hypotension causing dizziness. In order to decrease the risk of a fall, take your time standing up. Once standing, gather yourself and make sure you are not lightheaded and that your legs are not unsteady before beginning to walk. When you have been standing in one spot for a long time such as while cooking, change directions carefully and be aware of potential tripping hazards in your surroundings.
5. Decrease Your Risk of Falling
The best way to prevent falls is to be proactive! Addressing strength and balance deficits ahead of time is significantly easier than having to address them post-fall. There are many ways physical therapy can help decrease fall risk by addressing strength and balance deficits as well as providing training on safety awareness and proper use of assistive devices. Call Venture Rehab today to see how we can help you be proactive in decreasing fall risk to keep you safe in your home. Our university-trained therapists are ready and eager to assist you today!
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