Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among older people. Falls are especially dangerous for women. Because of a common loss of bone strength (osteoporosis), older women can easily break their hips in a fall. The best way to reduce your risk of falling is to keep yourself healthy and to make your homesafe.


    How can I keep healthy?

    •    Have a physical exam each year

    •    If you feel your vision, hearing, or sense of balance has changed, talk to your doctor or nurse

    •    Wear your glasses and hearing aids when you're awake

    •    Use special care when wearing new glasses

    •    If you have blind spots in your vision, look around by slowly moving your head to each side

    •    Use these techniques to avoid dizziness:

     o   Get up slowly from a lying or sitting position

     o   Prop your head on a pillow when you lie down

     o   Sit on the side of the bed for a moment before standing up

     o   Don't work with your arms raised above your head


    What can I do to keep my home safe?

    Some home safety projects, such as tacking down carpets and putting non-skid rubber mats in baths tubs and showers, are easy to do yourself. For others, you may need to ask a friend or relative for help, or you may need your landlord's consent. Some changes also can cost a lot. Your local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau or home care agency might be able to provide you with a list of:

    •    Workers, paid or volunteer

    •    Sources for low-cost building materials

    •    Sources of funding for your safety projects

    To contact your local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, please call 12333.


    Lighting

    To avoid entering a dark room or hallway:

    •    Have light switches next to doorways

    •    Set timer lights to come on automatically at dusk

    •    Use automatic lights that come on when there is noise or movement near them

    •    Use night lights 

    •    Keep flashlights in easy-to-reach spots in case of power failure

    To cut down on glare:

    •    Use light bulbs rather than fluorescent lighting

    •    Use thin curtains or mini-blinds in bright sunlight

    •    Avoid high-gloss floor and furniture polishes

    To cut down on shadows: 

    •    Use high watt, low-glare bulbs

    •    Use more lamps

    •    Light corners


    Floors and Carpets

    To cut your risk of slipping or tripping:

    •    Use non-skid waxes and floor cleaners on bare floors

    •    Let washed floors dry before walking on them

    •    Wipe up all spills and puddles quickly

    •    Back carpets with non-slip padding

    •    Tack down loose carpets

    •    Replace thick-pile carpets with low-pile carpets

    •    Remove or tack down all scatter rugs

    •    Turn under and hem rug fringes and repair unraveled edges

    •    Keep floors free of objects

    •    Never run electric cords across a floor or under a rug. Secure cords to the wall and around doorways with tape or electrical staples

    •    Put bright tape on thresholds

    •    Don't walk around in stockings or socks. Be sure to wear shoes with rubber soles


    Stairs

    To make indoor and outdoor stairs safer:

    •    Have light switches at top and bottom

    •    Install handrails on both sides

    •    Use non-skid surfaces

    •    Avoid using dark or busy-patterned carpeting on stairs

    •    Add rubber treads for extra grip

    •    Put bright tape on the edge of each step

    If it is hard for you to use the stairs, you might:

    •    Convert a first floor room to a bedroom

    •    Install a stair lift you can sit in to ride up and down the stairs


    Living Areas and Bedroom

    To move safely through your home without danger of falling:

    •    Make a clear path through each room

    •    Remove clutter and extra furniture

    •    Remove unstable furniture (such as wobbly tables, chairs on rollers, and rickety bookcases)

    •    Use a sturdy step stool to reach high places. Never use a chair as a stepladder


    Bathrooms

    To make your bathroom safer and easier to use:

    •    Use non-skid mats on the bathroom floor

    •    Install grip bars on the walls beside the bath and toilet

    •    Install a higher toilet seat

    •    If you don't use a non-skid plastic shower chair in the tub or shower, be sure to use a non-skid rubber mat

     

    How do I reach help easily in an emergency?

    •    Put telephones in easy-to-reach spots

    •    Post emergency numbers next to the telephone

    •    Use a telephone that you can program so emergency numbers can be reached by pushing one button

    •    If possible, keep a cordless telephone close at hand. Keep in mind, it may be harder to hear on a cordless telephone


    What about exercise?

    Regular exercise helps prevent falls, strengthens your muscles, and keeps your reflexes quick. Weight-bearing exercise, like walking, also helps keep bones strong. Be sure to talk to your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner before starting any new exercise program. Here are three simple exercises that are good for balance and flexibility: 

    1.  Hip circles: Put your hands on your hips. Make big circles with your hips by swiveling them to the right five times. Stop and swivel to the left five times

    2.   Toe stands: From a standing position, raise the heels of both feet at the same time and go up on your tiptoes. Hold for five seconds. Return to a standing position with your feet flat. Repeat five times. If you feel unbalanced, you can do this exercise while holding onto the back of a sturdy chair for support

    3.   One-leg stands: Start in a standing position. Lift your left leg in the air and stand on your right leg for five seconds. Put your left leg down. Now lift your right leg in the air and stand on your left leg. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. If you are worried that you will fall, do this exercise while holding onto the back of a sturdy chair for support


    This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.

     

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