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Falling is for Leaves
Your Living Space and Personal Safety
by Shandra Harcarik, RN, BSN

Falls are one of the leading problems facing an older person.  The latest reports indicate that one of every three persons aged 65 and over falls each year.  Falls are the leading cause of death by injury.  87% of all fractures among seniors are due to falls.  Half of all older people hospitalized for a fracture cannot return home or live independently after their injury.

Here are some tips to help you prevent falls: 

General Environment

  • Clear pathways of clutter and electrical cords
  • Firmly attach carpet and rugs, eliminate scatter or throw rugs.
  • Use a raised seat and safety rails for toileting
  • Rearrange furniture so they are not obstacles
  • Install sturdy handrails on staircases
  • Provide adequate lighting, especially on walkways, stairs; use a nightlight where possible; Keep a flashlight handy in the event of a power outage. 
  • Try to use only chairs with armrests for assistance when getting up and down; do not use chairs with wheels.
  • Have a slip-resistant rug next to your bathtub/shower; Use nonskid texture strips on shower floor

Lifestyle Changes

  • Have your vision and hearing checked regularly
  • Talk to your doctor/health care provider about your medications and the side effects; • Try to use one pharmacy to obtain your medications.
  • Wear supportive, rubber-soled shoes.  Shoes should have low, even heels and firm shape.  Be sure your slippers have a gripper sole to add stability.
  • Use a cane or walker to help maintain your balance
  • Maintain a regular exercise program to improve strength and tone; Ask your doctor if you would benefit from home physical therapy or occupational therapy. 

For more information, you can reach Shandra Harcarik, RN, BSN, at Gallagher Home Health Services at 412-279-7800

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