Falling is one of the most common mechanisms of injury which can lead to a trip to physical therapy if the injury is severe enough.
Broken bones, neck/back problems, joint dislocation, and muscle strains are some of the injuries I typically see as a result. As we age, our reflexes, strength, and overall balance may decline resulting in a greater likelihood for falls. To help avoid future falls or the fear of falling, consider these helpful prevention strategies around the home.
- Remove home hazards: In high traffic areas around the home, remove or find a new place for items that may be in the way. Rid plants, boxes, electrical cords, or any other décor from walkways to ensure a clear pathway. Tape down or secure loose corners of rugs in the room to decrease likelihood of the tripping over them. If the rug is not needed, simply remove the rug. If you have kids, make it a habit to clear the cluttered toys off the ground daily. And promptly clean up any spilled liquids or foods off the ground.
- Use assisted devices around the home: If there are stairs outside or inside the home, make sure there are secure hand-railings to hold onto. Grab-bars in the bath tub or shower will help you get in and out more safely. To avoid slipping in the tub, using non-slip mats can also be helpful to limit the risk of falling. Raising the toilet seat or using an armrest can help getting up and down easier. If necessary, consult with your doctor to determine if a cane or walker is needed for you to better move around the home.
- Light up the home: Many of us may try to maneuver around our home to get a quick drink of water without turning on the lights. Make sure there is good lighting around the house, placing night-lights in the bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms. If you have stairs, make sure the stairs are well lit with light switches at the top and bottom of the staircase. Keep a flashlight in a drawer that is easy to find in case of power outages.
- Keep common items within safe reach: Try to avoid storing kitchen items too high or too low in the cabinets. This way, you will not have to climb up on a step ladder or stool.
- Wear sensible shoes: High heels, flip flops, house slippers, or shoes with slick soles can easily cause a slip or tumble. If you have hard wood flooring and enjoy wearing socks around the house like I do, you may consider socks with non-slip gripping on the bottom as well. Otherwise, wearing shoes with non-slip soles will be the best option to walk around the home.
Fear of falling or falling can be combated with these simple changes around the home. However, if you feel your balance is off, make an appointment to see your doctor. The best way to treat your injuries from falls is to prevent them. Physical therapy can help.