Fall Safety: Facts & Prevention Tips
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to falling. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injury among older adults. Twenty five percent of Americans over age 65 fall each year. Older adults may limit their activities for fear of falling, which can reduce fitness levels and cause falling.
Physical Factors That May Cause a Fall In Older Adults
- Loss of coordination, flexibility and balance caused by inactivity
- Slower reaction times that make it difficult to prevent a fall once it’s started
- Vision loss that makes it difficult to see tripping hazards and contrasting edges
- Medication side effects and interactions that cause dizziness
- Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and stroke, that cause loss of coordination, flexibility and balance
Environmental Hazards Include:
- Weather conditions such as ice or snow
- Home clutter that can cause tripping
- Lack of home modifications, such as handrails, grab bars, and ramps
- Home lighting
- Ill-fitting or badly designed shoes and other clothing
Tips to Prevent Falls During Winter Months
- Plan Ahead. Plan your trips and outings around the weather.
- Slow Down. Allow yourself enough time to get where you are going.
- Wear shoes with good traction. Wear shoes with rubber soles with traction. Also buying Spikeless ice and snow grippers sole covers and ice gripper cane tip can help.
- Dress warm. If muscles are warm then muscles relax. Tensed muscles can adversely affect balance. Buy winter clothes in your size to keep you warm. Bulky items can increase you risk for falling.
- Keep your hands free. Wear gloves. Keep your hands out of your pockets to help your balance. Avoid carrying heavy loads or children.
- Take the Path of Least Resistance. Use the safest route, and do NOT take shortcuts. Stay on cleared sidewalks and paths. Don’t walk between parked cars. Remember that grassy slopes can be as slippery, snowy slopes. Carry little bags filled with kitty litter for slick surfaces.
- Take extra time. Don’t rush. Take short steps with toes pointed slightly outward to maintain a stable base of support. Walk like a penguin.
- Be careful getting out of cars. Plant both feet firmly on ground before moving. Steady yourself on a door frame until you find balance.
- When walking in the dark or shadowy areas, stay alert for black ice. Black ice is treacherous and extremely slippery.
- Pay Attention. Stay aware of the surfaces ahead of you. Look down with your eyes only. If you move your head downward, you may shift your balance.
- Keep your driveway and walkways clear. Pay or ask someone to do so if necessary. Use steps with a sturdy handrail. Use de-icer or shovel/broom.
- Invest in Lights. Use extra lamps, night lights, and exterior lights allow you to see better. Use high watt bulbs in your fixtures.
- Keep indoor hallways clear of cords. Keep space heaters, cords, and blankets out of the hallways. If you must have rugs on cold floors, secure them to the floor with tape.
- Keep your cellphone with you. Always carry a cellphone and designate someone to call for help if you need it. Do not walk to the mailbox without a phone with you. Ask for assistance if needed with your mail.
- Remain active. Do easy indoor exercises.
Immediate Action Steps When a Fall Occurs
What are the best actions for individuals to take if they fall or someone nearby takes a tumble on the ice and snow?
- Don’t get up right away or let anyone help you up immediately; this avoids the potential of causing further injury. Don’t worry about feeling embarrassed. Rather, take your time, lie there for a moment and assess how you are feeling.
- After making an assessment of your injury status, if you can get up, roll to one side. Bend your knees toward you, push up with your arms and then use your legs to stand up the rest of the way.
- If someone assists you to your feet, ensure that he or she doesn’t get hurt, too.
- Use your cellphone or mobile medical alert device if you need assistance getting up from a fall. In many communities, fire departments are available to help citizens get up from falls, even if no injury is present.
- Call 911 or emergency medical help if the fall has led to an emergency situation.