Fall Prevention Packet

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1 Home Care Services Fall Prevention Packet This packet will help you learn how to prevent falls. Even if you have no risks at this time, this is important information. Preventing Falls Your Risks Many factors can put you at risk for a fall. These are your fall risks: Falls in the past Fall hazards in the home See pages 2 3. Living alone with no fall emergency plan See page 4. Poor walking and balance See page 5. Foot problems or unsafe footwear See page 6. Vision or hearing problems See page 7. Postural hypotension See page 8. Getting up from the Floor See Page 9. 1

2 2

3 Fall Safety in the Home One in three adults age 65 or older falls each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, 2.5 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for fall injuries and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma, which can increase the risk of early death. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable. Older adults can take several steps to protect their independence and reduce their risk of falling. Most falls occur in or around the home and are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. This checklist will help you find and fix those hazards in your home. Floors Make sure there is a clear path through each room. Ask someone to move furniture so your path is clear. Remove throw rugs or use double- sided tape or non-slip backing so rugs won t slip. Pick up things that are on the floor. Always keep papers, magazines, books, blankets, towels and other objects off the floor. Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you do not trip over them. Have an electrician put in extra outlets if needed. Stairs Pick up things on the stairs. Always keep papers, shoes, books or other objects off the stairs. Fix any loose or uneven steps. Have a handyman or electrician put an overhead light and switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. It is helpful to get light switches that glow. Have a friend or family member replace any burned out light bulbs. Repair loose or broken handrails. There should be handrails on both sides of the stairway. They should be as long as the stairs. Repair any carpet that is loose or torn on the steps. Carpet should be firmly attached to every step or remove carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads on stairs. Use reflective tape at the top and bottom of the stairs so you can see them better. Kitchen Move items that you use often to shelves that are about waist high. Buy a steady step stool with a bar to hold onto. Never use a chair as a step stool. 3

4 Bedrooms Place a lamp close to your bed where it is easy to reach. Use a night-light so you can see where you re walking. Some night- lights can be placed on a timer. Bathrooms Put a non-slip rubber mat or self- stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower. Have a grab bar installed inside the tub and next to the toilet. Other Home Areas Improve the lighting in your home. Use brighter bulbs. Use lamps or frosted bulbs to reduce glare. Paint doorsills a different color to prevent tripping. Have at least one phone where you can reach it from the floor. Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone. More Tips to Avoid Falls Get up slowly after you sit or lie down. Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles. Avoid slippers and running shoes with thick soles. Carry a cell phone in your pocket even at home. Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and are not able to get up. Take Care of Yourself Exercise regularly. Focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review a list of your medications including both prescription and over the counter, to check for and reduce side effects and interactions that may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Have your vision checked at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns. 4

5 Fall Emergency Plan Make a plan. Think ahead and plan about what you might do if you fall. Have at least one phone that you can reach from the floor. Carry a cell phone in your pocket even at home. Consider a personal emergency response system, especially if you live alone. If you live in assisted living, make sure that emergency pull cords work and that they can be reached from the floor. Personal Emergency Response System Resource Mount Carmel Lifeline

6 Walking Safety Tips When walking: When turning: Wear comfortable shoes that fit well, and provide support and protection. Stand as straight as possible. Keep your feet about 4 to 6 inches apart. Turn slowly. Take shorter steps when turning. Avoid sharp pivots or twisting. Losing balance: With each step, place your heel on the floor first. If you feel yourself losing your balance, hold onto something that will not move. Keep the length of your steps equal. Take full steps. If you start going too fast, pause briefly, readjust your footing and continue. Hold your arms naturally at your side and not in your pockets. Look up, not at the floor. Use a cane or walker if needed. When walking on stairs: Don ts: Don t rush, walk at a slower pace. If you start going too fast, stop and start again. Don t use objects that move for support such as doors, rolling stools or carts. Always hold on to the railing. Put your whole foot on each step. Focus on what you are doing and avoid distractions. If you need to carry packages, place them on the step ahead of you one at a time. Packages can block your vision if you carry them in front of you. Try placing your laundry in a bag and tossing it to the bottom of the stairs instead of carrying it in a basket. 6

7 Foot Problems and Unsafe Footwear Many falls are due to unsafe footwear. Wear shoes with soles that are not too thick or too soft. If you have decreased feeling (neuropathy) in your feet: Keep your home well lighted. Wear slippers that support your foot. Wear supportive shoes with thin, firm soles and low heels. Safe Footwear Slip-on loafers Oxford tie shoes Velcro closure shoes Use extra caution when walking on uneven ground, thick carpet or inclines. Check soles of feet for skin cracks or blisters. Use a mirror if your leg motion is limited. Sneakers Check bath water for safe temperature Walking sport shoes before bathing Low heeled pumps When cooking, do not lift heavy or hot objects, slide them on the counter. Unsafe Footwear High heeled pumps If you have problems with your feet see a podiatrist. Backless slippers or shoes Stockings or socks only Shoes with slippery leather or sticky crepe soles Shoes that are too tight or leave marks on your skin Shoes that are too loose or slip at heel 7

8 Vision and Hearing Problems Vision and hearing problems can affect your safety and help to lead to falls. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of falling. If you have problems with your vision: Keep areas well lit. Turn lights on when getting up in the middle of the night. Keep your glasses clean. Do not walk, especially on the stairs, with reading glasses. Have your eyes checked regularly. If you have problems with your hearing: Have your hearing checked regularly. Have a health professional remove excessive ear wax if needed. Use hearing aids if you have them. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns. 8

9 Postural Hypotension What is it? What should I do if I have it? Postural means change with standing and hypotension means low blood pressure. Postural hypotension means the blood pressure drops too low when a person stands up. Get up slowly, clench your fists and flex your ankles 10 times before getting up. This will help raise your blood pressure a little before you get up. Stand a while before you start walking. Why should I worry? A drop in blood pressure when you stand up can affect how much blood gets to the brain. It can disturb your balance and make you feel dizzy or tired. It can also cause you to fall and get hurt, even break a bone. Will I know if I have postural hypotension? Some people feel dizzy when they get up but others don t, so you may not know that you have it. A health care provider can check for it by taking your blood pressure after you have been lying quietly for 5 minutes and then again after you stand up. If the top number of your blood pressure drops more than 20 points or is less than 90 when you stand up, you have postural hypotension. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day unless you have been told to limit your fluids. Keep a complete list of medications including prescription and over-the- counter medicines, herbals and supplements. Ask a health care provider if any of them may be causing the problem. Some medications can cause this. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and discuss your medications. 9

10 Getting Up from the Floor Follow these steps if youfall and cannot get up on your own. 1. Move to a sitting position on the floor. Take a few moments to calm yourself. Find the nearest sturdy chair or other solid piece of furniture. 2. Roll over on your hands and knees. Crawl to the chair. 3. Put your stronger leg under you so that the foot of that leg is on the floor. Push up using your arms on the chair for support. 4. Sit until you feel steady and safe to attempt walking. Falling once means youwill likely fall again. Talk with your doctor to help find the reason you are falling. Share your concerns with your family members. Ask your doctor, nurse or therapist for more information on how to prevent falls. Rev. 1/12, 2/15 Mount Carmel

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