For Families and Caregivers

How to Prevent Falls at Home

By BreakThrough Care Center

About 30% of older individuals living at home fall each year. Falls can result in hip fractures, lead to fear of future falls, increases the risk of more falls and can lead to placement in a nursing home. Of those individuals who sustain a hip fracture, 75% never recover to how they were before the fracture.

How can falls be prevented?

Perform a home safety check. Examine your home for things that increase your risk for falls including throw rugs, furniture that obstructs walking areas, poor lighting, cords lying on the floor, piles of paper or boxes, items placed on high shelves that are not easily reachable. Things that increase your safety at home include grab bars, non slip rubber mats in showers and baths, wearing non slip shoes and using assistive devices like canes and walkers correctly.

Exercise. Regular exercise that includes both muscle strengthening and balance training are key. An excellent example is Tai Chi which includes both those exercises and has been shown to decrease falls.

Medication review.  Taking more than 4 medications, recent changes in a medication dosage and recent changes in the numbers of medications taken increase the change of falls. Numerous medications have side effects including dizziness or sleepiness that increase the risk of falls. Have your medications reviewed by a pharmacist or your doctor periodically.

Take Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps make bones stronger. Ask your doctor before taking any over the counter Vitamin D to ensure you are taking the correct and safest amount

Invest in a call alarm system. This is extremely helpful to prevent one from lying on the floor to long after a fall which can increase complications. If you can’t afford a call alarm talk with your family/friends about having daily phone call checks at certain times.

Inform your health care provider if a fall occurs. This then can trigger a review to figure what may have caused a fall and how to prevent one in the future


References:

Robertson, M. Clare, Gillespie, Lesley D. Fall prevention in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. JAMA, April 2013: 309(13); 1406-1407

Prevention of Falls  and Complications of Falls in Community-dwelling Older Persons www.Uptodate.com

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Fall Prevention materials. www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/preventadultfalls.htm

American Geriatrics  Society Foundation for Health in Aging. www.healthinaging.org