Preventing Falls, One Step at a Time

November 18, 2013 by Deena
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Falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death in adults over the age of 65. Each year one in three seniors over the age of 65 experiences at least one fall.  Each year one in two seniors over the age of 80 experiences a fall.  Most falls occur in the home.   Clutter and other tripping hazards, poor balance, weakness and distractions can all cause a person to stumble and fall. A fall can be serious enough to cause permanent (lifelong) injury and threaten your quality of life.   Don’t become part of this statistic.

Some people become so afraid of falling (or after an actual fall)  they stop doing activities they used to enjoy.  Physical and Occupational Therapists are experts in mobility and motion; we will help you know what to do to prevent falls, modify your home to stay safe, and increase your strength and flexibility.  The Physical and Occupational Therapy team at the Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor would like to ensure that you can safely do the things you want to and need to do. We would like to share the following tips to help you stay safe and active in your home and community:

 

  1. 1.      Remove clutter in your home, and walk carefully when there are potential hazards such as throw rugs and pets underfoot.
  2. 2.     Never stand on chairs or similar items to get something you can’t reach.  Ask for help, or use a sturdy stool with hand rail or ladder.
  3. 3.     Do not use towel bars, sink edges etc. for support because they could come away from the wall.
  4. 4.     Use night light in the bedroom and bathroom.
  5. 5.     Immediately wipe spills off the floor and use a rubber backed bathmat to prevent the bathroom floor from getting wet.  Even a small amount for water can lead to a slip.
  6. 6.     Stay active to maintain overall strength, endurance and balance.
  7. 7.     Know your limitations.  If there is a task you cannot easily complete, do not risk a fall by trying to do it. 
  8. 8.     Have your rehab team assess you for appropriate assistive devices such as canes and walkers.
  9. 9.     If you are getting up from sitting, rise slowly, count to 10 before starting to walk.  This allows you to get your “bearings.”
  10. 10.   Avoid rushing, even if the telephone is ringing, or someone is at the door; make sure you have your balance before starting to walk.
  11. 11.   Consider having a call alert system, to summon help in a timely manner should a fall occur. 
  12. 12.   Make sure steps have sturdy railings. 
  13. 13.   Have regular medical checkups and eye exams
  14. 14.   Maintain a healthy diet
  15. 15.   Check with your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of your medications
  16. 16.   Wear sturdy, non- skid shoes that fit appropriately
  17. 17.   Always walk slowly and look for potential tripping hazards
  18. 18.   Use the appliances suggested by your physical or occupational therapist such as canes, walkers, raised toilet seats, grab bars or dressing aides. 

Risk factors for falls include:

  1. 1.       History of previous falls
  2. 2.       Balance problems
  3. 3.       Muscle weakness
  4. 4.       Vision Problems
  5. 5.       Taking more than 4 medications or psychoactive medications
  6. 6.       Difficulty with walking

Your health provider may review the following, should they note difficulties in an area, and they should refer to the rehab team. 

  1. 1.       Review medical history
  2. 2.       Review medications
  3. 3.       Simple vision test
  4. 4.       Home safety assessment
  5. 5.       Simple screen of your thinking abilities
  6. 6.       Check your heart rate
  7. 7.       Blood pressure measurements while you change positions (from sitting to standing)
  8. 8.       Feet and footwear assessment
  9. 9.       Assessment of any nervous system disorders such as a stroke or Parkinson disease

 

Your Rehab team will evaluate the following areas, and make recommendations to improve functioning. 

  1. 1.       Balance
  2. 2.       Walking and moving
  3. 3.       Doing more than one thing at the same time
  4. 4.       Strength
  5. 5.       Aerobic training
  6. 6.       Education
  7. 7.       Fear management
  8. 8.       Educate on home program and/or community programs that are available

We can help! Please ask your health care provider for a referral to Physical and Occupational Therapy at the Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor to help you or your loved one lead a more safe and fulfilling life without falls.  .  We strive to provide “Coordinated Care, Close to Home”. Rehab services offered at the Granite Falls Hospital and Manor include:  Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy. If you have questions, please contact Physical Therapy at 320-564-6243, and Occupational Therapy 320-564-6244. 

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