Fall arriving means that winter will be here before we know it in Pennsylvania. With winter comes ice and other factors that increase the likelihood of falls for many PA residents. This fall, take the time to sit down with your loved ones and discuss how you can best prevent falls and injuries!
Here at Accessibility Solutions 360, we work hard to ensure that your or your loved one’s home is accessible and do our best to minimize risk of falls. However, there are still steps that should be taken outside of modifying your home to be accessible. That is why we have compiled a short guide on fall prevention to keep you or your loved ones safe.
Fall Risk Factors
If there is a history of medical conditions that impact balance and stability, the risk of falling can increase. The best way to prevent falls from medical conditions is to talk to your doctor about your concerns. They can prescribe medication or suggest physical therapy that can help strengthen muscles and avoid falls.
Some common medical conditions that can increase the risk of falling are:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hearing loss
- Vision impairment
If you are on multiple medications, it is important to make sure your doctor has an up-to-date list. Some medications can interact negatively with others, leading to unintended side effects that can impact balance and coordination. Medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness can also increase your fall risk.
3. Household dangers
Some of the most common risks of falls reside in your house. Stairs that are uneven, walkways that are cluttered or aren’t level, rugs that can create uneven surfaces, even tubs that require too high of a step to get in are all common causes for falls in one’s own house. Luckily, at Accessibility Solutions 360 we provide solutions to all these common risk factors. From stairlift installations to barrier free showers, we can work with you to modify your home to prevent falls wherever possible.
4. Lifestyle choices
Certain lifestyle choices can also increase the likelihood of falling. Things such as increased alcohol consumption or a poor diet can have consequences on bone health and strength. These choices can lead to impacts in balance and coordination – leading to a higher chance of falls.
Fall Prevention Tips
1. Focus on Health
Maintaining your health and staying active are great ways to minimize fall risks and prevent injuries. Be proactive in your health by:
- Avoiding excessive drinking.
- Quitting smoking (if applicable).
- Consulting your doctor about all side effects of medications, especially new ones.
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
- Staying hydrated.
- Working with occupational therapists as needed to stay active. Alternatively, if you can safely begin a home exercise program – do so! Activities such as weight training (with low weights), dancing, biking, walking and more can improve balance, strength and flexibility – all lowering your risk of falling.
2. Home Modifications
Making modifications to your home may become necessary as fall risks continue to increase. Whether the modifications are simple such as improving lighting and implementing better organizational methods to limit clutter in walkways or require professionals such as installing a ramp or stairlift, there are many steps that can be taken to improve accessibility in the home:
- Utilize higher watt light bulbs to increase visibility.
- Plug in nightlights.
- Make lighting more accessible. This could mean including a lamp next to the bed that is easily turned on or having an electrician move the light switches to more convenient locations.
- Store flashlights throughout your home in case of power outages so you are still able to see.
- Incorporate slip resistant rugs in the bathroom to minimize risk of slipping when coming out of the shower/tub.
- Keep hallways and stairs decluttered so there are fewer tripping hazards.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Have a stairlift or ramp installed as necessary.
- Replace your current tub with a barrier-free shower for easier access.
- And more!
There are plenty of other options for home modifications available if needed. Give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss any other accessibility modifications you may need.
3. Wear Safe Clothes
While this one may sound obvious and less like a tip than the others, it is important to make sure that you are dressing appropriately for your own safety! Specifically, making sure that you are wearing appropriate footwear as needed.
- Avoid high heels. They pose an unnecessary risk of tripping and falling.
- Make sure your shoelaces are always tied.
- Replace shoes when their tread becomes too worn to gain traction on most surfaces.
- Don’t solely wear socks on potentially slippery surfaces. If walking on hardwood or tile floors, wear shoes to prevent slipping and falling.
- Ensure that your shoes fit correctly. Shoes that are too loose or too tight can increase the risk of falling due to discomfort when walking.
Additionally, utilizing assistive devices such as canes or walkers as needed can improve stability. Other items, such as life alert buttons, can be incorporated into things you wear every day if you are worried about falling and being unable to get help.
What to Do if You Fall
If you fall, the first step is to not panic. While panicking is a natural response, remaining calm can help you process the situation. You will want to perform a quick self-evaluation. Are you hurt? Where? Can you stand up and walk?
If you are able to get up, try to move from the floor to a seated position first (ideally on a couch or chair). From there you can take a moment to catch your breath and continue. Call for help if you notice any injuries from the fall or need assistance in walking further.
However, if you are unable to get up – call for help. Use a life alert device, call your emergency contact or 911 on your cell phone, try to access a home phone, or yell for help to alert someone nearby.
From there, allow medical professionals to check out the extent of your injuries and follow their advice.
While no one wants to experience a fall, sometimes they happen to even the most prepared of us. Follow these tips to prevent falls but have a plan in place in case an accident does happen. Being prepared can make all the difference.
Here at Accessibility Solutions 360, we are proud to provide people access to their homes while contributing to fall prevention. Don’t wait for accessibility – give us a call today at 888-837-6818 or contact us to learn more!