Fall Prevention Awareness Day occurs annually on September 22nd and coincides with the 1st day of fall. However; prevention efforts are rolled out throughout the month of September every year. Community prevention education and training is pivotal in reducing falls. This is especially important for those who are at a higher risk for falls. Various risk factors can increase the chance of falling, such as: advanced age, gender, fitness/activity level, comorbidities (cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, etc.), and the overall physical and mental health of the individual. There are several safety measures that can help to reduce the risks of falling.
Below are some simple tips that can help to create a safer environment:
- Removal of clutter; especially in and around doorways and steps/stairs
- Removing unnecessary throw rugs
- If throw rugs are required, ensure they are non-slip
- Have a qualified contractor install grab bars/handrails in bathrooms or near any steps
- Avoid wearing loose clothing that may cause you to trip.
- Always wear shoes, even when inside the home
- Ensure that there is plenty of adequate lighting, install brighter bulbs or night lights where needed
- Find a Physician approved exercise program to help increase muscle strength and balance. Remember: “Move it – or – Lose it”. As physical activity decreases, de-conditioning can set-in quickly and increase the risk of falling.
- Consider ditching sandals or slippers, opt to wear a shoe that that has a back and are non-slip
- If you have been advised to use an assistive device(s), be sure to use them! Make sure to have them fitted for you specifically by a professional
- Always take extra precautions around pets and small children. Move cautiously and always take your time
Some signs and symptoms of deconditioning are:
- Muscle weakness.
- Cardiovascular problems.
- Digestive difficulties.
- Pulmonary conditions.
- Depression and disorientation
THE GOOD NEWS: Effects of muscle deconditioning, weight, and overall health CAN be reversed. If you suspect that you or a loved one are at risk for experiencing a fall, or have already fallen; please speak to your physician and consider starting an age-appropriate exercise program to improve your strength and balance. These simple modifications can go a long way in keeping everyone Fall-Free!
~Tracey N. Thornton, BSHA
~Lee Health Trauma Services
~Injury Prevention Educator