Fall Prevention in the Home
Author: Tammy Rampton, RN, BSN
Most parents expect toddlers and young children to fall – a lot! It’s part of the process of learning to walk, and no one is surprised when it happens. However, it’s not just children who fall. I tripped while going up the stairs just a couple of weeks ago (yes, I’m talented) and I’m 40 years old. We may get wiser as we age, but we don’t necessarily get less accident prone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in four adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall every year.
Why are falls such a big problem?
While falls are generally not a big deal for children, they can be a serious concern for older adults. Injuries from falls range from minor to more severe:
- Painful bruising
- Feeling stiff
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
There are also significant financial costs associated with falls. Each year about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries and roughly 300,000 older adults require hospitalization to treat hip fractures resulting from falls. Patients over 65 years old are also more likely to need treatment in a rehabilitation facility before being able to return home.
Even a fall without an injury can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, as they may stop participating in activities and outings due to a fear of falling again. Going for walks, shopping, eating out and other social activities not only benefit a person physically through active movement, but are also essential to mental and emotional well-being.
What are the most common causes of falls in the home?
While falls can happen anywhere, they often occur in the home. As such, it is essential to find and address potential hazards that can lead to fall-related injuries. Common causes of falls in the home include:
- Poor lighting
- Loose rugs
- Electrical/phone cords
- Cluttered walkways
- Loose or uneven floorboards
- Slippery surfaces such as the tub or shower
Mobility problems, balance issues, chronic illness or impaired vision make older adults more vulnerable to these and other fall hazards.
What can you do to prevent falls in the home?
Preventing falls in the home is most successful when both personal factors (like health conditions and exercise habits) and environmental factors (like home modifications and lighting) are addressed. Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) can perform a fall risk assessment to help identify your personal risk factors and create a plan to reduce them such as:
- Managing medication side effects and interactions
- Treating underlying health conditions that may contribute to falls
- Working with Physical and Occupational Therapy to improve muscle strength, mobility and balance
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption
- Maintaining bone health to reduce the risk of injury
- Using assistive devices such as walkers or canes
Making changes to the home environment is also crucial for fall prevention and there are many areas that can be addressed throughout your home:
- Remove loose rugs
- Install grab bars in the bathroom
- Add handrails on stairs
- Keep floors clutter-free
- Put non-slip mats in tubs and showers
- Have adequate lighting in each space
Be sure to discuss your individual needs and circumstances with your physician or contact All Care Health Solutions at 208-473-2717 with any questions you might have.