Some people say that Fall is unpreventable. They are right of course since Summer only lasts 3 months but in this article, we are going to focus on how to prevent falls. Jokes aside, falls are a serious risk to certain people’s health. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the arm, hand, ankle, or hip.” Fortunately, they are often preventable if you take the right precautions. Here are 8 steps you can take to minimize and reduce you or your loved one’s chances of falling in the home.
8. Strength Training
Muscle weakness is a major risk factor for falls. Weak muscles give us less leeway to maneuver around and might not be able to hold up to a person trying to catch themselves mid-fall. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap the benefits of strength training. Simple yet effective exercises that don’t require any advanced equipment can do wonders for a person trying to improve their muscle strength to prevent falls. The most effective fall prevention exercises will be those that focus on the lower body muscles. Simple toe stands, knee curls, leg extensions, butt raises, and abdominal exercises are all easy yet effective ways to strengthen muscles that can help us prevent falls. None of these exercises require any equipment, so no expensive memberships or time-consuming trips to the gym are needed. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
7. Double handrails
A secure handrail is a nice addition to stairs. But, sometimes one doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need to use a different hand to grip the handrail, or perhaps you need to hold on with both hands for stability. Maybe you are about to fall and the only thing that could stop you is using both your hands on the handrails. While having a single handrail improves safety on your stairs, having two stable handrails is even better. Having an extra handrail can decrease your chances of falling while on the stairs.
6. A Bell for Fido
We all love our pets. However, when it comes to preventing falls they can be a real problem. Pets that free roam around the house, like dogs and cats, can inadvertently trip up their owners. To combat this problem, try attaching a bell to your beloved animal. With a bell attached to his collar, sneaky Mr. Pebbles won’t be tripping you or your loved one anytime soon. Taking the small step of attaching a bell to your furry friend can prevent a small step on said friend that could cause a big hospital bill. Check out this great list of questions to ask yourself when your loved one has a pet.
5. Non-Skid Shoes
Wearing soft slippers or socks around the house is one of the more seemingly innocuous risks that people take around the house. This footwear can contribute to a fall by not providing proper traction on the various surfaces in a home. Combat this danger by using non-skid or slip-resistant shoes. These shoes are designed to grip surfaces, virtually removing the chance of falls due to inappropriate footwear. You can buy shoes specially designed to be slip-resistant or you can modify existing footwear.
4. Motion Lighting
Many falls happen at night. We get up from our beds and need to get somewhere, like the kitchen or bathroom. The problem is that it’s pitch black and you have no way of turning the light on without walking some ways. Maybe you can turn the light on, but forget to since it’s 3 AM. Suddenly you trip over the toys that your grandson left on the floor and you are falling to the ground. To avoid this scenario consider installing motion sensor lights in your home to illuminate a path to common nighttime destinations like the bathroom. These lights can help you maneuver around hazards that you might not be able to see without good lighting.
3. Home Safety Assessment
Implementing a proper fall prevention program for the average person can be difficult. If you feel that you don’t have the time or resources to invest into researching and actively preventing falls, consider hiring a Care Manager. Care Manager’s can come into your home and assess you and your living situation. They will point out danger areas that you might miss and offer guidance on how to correct potentially hazardous situations. They will help coordinate any services to alleviate dangers from falling. Care Managers are a valuable guide in not only fall prevention, but many other facets of life that older adults face every day. Check out everything a Home Safety Assessment includes here, and other services that might be helpful to you and your loved one.
2. Tai Chi
Having better balance, coordination, and strength will lead to fewer falls for people at risk. Tai chi is one program you can use that can help develop all three. You might have seen this being practiced in a movie, TV show, or perhaps in real life. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, “Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that's now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.” This form of exercise can be useful in many ways, but especially so for people at risk for falls.
1. Throw rugs
The number one thing you can do to improve you or your loved one’s chances of preventing a fall is to get rid of small throw rugs. There are several dangers associated with carpets and rugs, but the worst offender is the throw rug. They slip and slide across the room when you try and step on them. Even if you try to secure them with tape or something else your foot can get caught between the rug and the floor. The best thing you can do with these decorative floor mats is to immediately throw them in the dumpster. Do you and your loved one a favor by ridding your living space of these possibly beautiful, but definitely dangerous throw rugs.
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