November is officially Fall Prevention Month but it isn’t the only time of year we should be thinking about how to prevent falls. With falls being the leading cause of injury among older Canadians resulting in 85% of seniors’ injury-related hospitalizations, preventing falls should be on everyone’s minds all year round.
The good news is that they can largely be avoided with you and your loved ones taking steps to keeping your balance and preparing your home to prevent falls.
Keeping Your Balance
- Protect your eyesight and inner ear. Have your eyesight and hearing tested yearly. Use good lighting and nightlights in your home and remove your reading glasses before walking or using the stairs.
- Avoid becoming dizzy. Before standing up and walking, pause for the count of 10 and take one slow deep breath before you take a step. Especially before getting up to use the bathroom. Avoid sudden movements especially when the telephone or doorbell rings. Consult your physician if you think your medication is making you dizzy. Learn about the possible side effects of prescription and off-the-counter medication.
- Wear proper footwear. Wear rubber or non-slip shoes, secure with laces or Velcro. Avoid slippers, walking barefoot of walking in stocking feet.
- Use recommended assistive devices. Keep your walker or cane close to help steady your balance when walking. Hold onto handrails, grab bars, or something steady especially when reaching for the floor. Apply the brakes before standing up or sitting down. Carry items in the basket or a small bag attached to your walker.
- Stay active! Ideas for staying active: short walks in and around the home, taking the stairs, standing up from sitting. Remember to pick up your feet when you walk.
Keeping your home safe
- Floors: Keep floors clear of things that you can trip on such as books and shoes. Make sure electrical cords are coiled up and out of the way. Eliminate throw rugs.
- Stairs: Keep steps and walkways clear of ice, snow, newspapers and wet leaves. Keep outdoor lights on in the evening and at night. Consider having a handrail installed along your front walkway. Have a sturdy chair in your entryway to help you put on and remove shoes and boots.
- Living Space: Leave generous space to move safely around furniture. Ensure furniture and lamps are steady and stable.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars next to toilets and inside showers. Use a night light in the hallway and bathroom. Use nonslip mats. Consider using a shower chair.
- Kitchen: Have everything you need within reach so you don’t have to climb/reach. Never use a chair as a step stool.
Carefor’s home care team, especially our Occupational Therapists, offer support and information on making sure your home stays safe. While they’re there to help, adopting these practices daily can help keep you and your loved ones safe.