Safety Guidelines for Fall Prevention
By Karen Hales, Neurology Solutions Contributing Writer
Thousands of elderly Americans fall in their homes each year, often due to factors that can be modified for fall prevention in advance. As people age, muscle degeneration occurs, which weakens both strength and balance. Chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis can cause balance disorders, cognitive impairment and weakness in the extremities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospitalization in people 65 and older. Read on for 6 Tips for at-home Fall Prevention.
More than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. Poor physical health increases a person’s initial risk of falling and minimizes his ability to respond to and recover from hazards, like tripping or slipping. Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause numbness in the feet, making it very difficult for a senior to sense environmental hazards and get around safely. Likewise, chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis can cause balance disorders, cognitive impairment and weakness in the extremities.
It is important that individuals over 65 and their families work with elder care professionals to identify and correct risk factors in the home. Neurology Solutions offers 6 Tips for At-Home Fall Prevention, smart safety guidelines to reduce fall risk.
6 Tips for At-Home Fall Prevention
Make sure to keep the floor and other pathways clear of anything that someone could trip over such as cords, throw rugs, clutter, pet bowls, or shoes. Also, remember to keep all walkways clear of furniture. Make sure your floors are not slippery. Ensure that any wax used on the floor is non-slip, and clean up any liquid or food spills right away. If you have pets, place a bell on your small dogs or cats so you are aware when they are near your feet.
Fall Prevention in the Bathroom
Research done by the CDC shows that older adults have the highest fracture rates in this part of the home. Purchase non-slip rubber mats for inside the tub or shower as well as adjacent to them. Also, install grab bars on the walls of your shower for more stability. Your toilet should also have a raised seat to make sitting down and getting up easier.
Eyesight also weakens with age so lighting is an important aspect of fall prevention. Make sure light bulbs are always replaced quickly, have an easy-to-reach lamp near your bedside, and install night lights throughout your home. Consider implementing motion-detector lights or glow-in-the-dark light switches near stairwells.
Replace low chairs and other furniture with seating that is easier to get in and out of. Frequently used items such as remote controls and phones should be re-arranged so that they are easy to access. Place these items on lower shelves and places that are easy to reach without a stool or bending over. Installing a no-step ramp with railings at one entryway in your home is another great way to help with fall prevention.
Exercise and Diet
Physical therapy can help you improve your balance and confidence with walking. Improved diet and mild exercise can improve muscle strength as well. Learn about some of the best exercises and training to limit muscle and strength loss. Please consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Keep in Contact
Our final tip for at home fall prevention is to stay connected in case of an emergency. Keep a cellphone or wireless phone on your person at all times. Also, make sure to have a phone that can be reached from the floor and one near your bed in case of a fall.
These safety guidelines should be taken in your home as soon as possible, especially if you have experienced a fall already. However, don’t let worry of falling stop you from living your life and engaging in walking and social activities. If you are worried about falling, contact your local physical therapist.
Read more about the physical therapy services offered by Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center at its on-site physical therapy center Austin Renewal Therapy, including dynamic balance assessment and fall prevention education.
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Neurology Solutions is accepting new patients seeking a specialist in managing Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, essential tremor and age-related movement disorders. If you are looking to confirm a diagnosis and/or find possible different treatment choices for managing symptoms of a movement disorder, please contact Neurology Solutions or call 512-865-6310 to schedule an appointment.
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