Fall Prevention Strategies:
Injuries from falls account for 85 percent of all injuries to the elderly, and in 2006/2007, cost the province of B.C. $155 million in direct hospital costs alone. (Canadian Institute of Health Information Discharge Abstract Database)
The following suggestions are excellent questions to go through pertaining to three different high risk fall areas in the home. Ask an elder the numbered inquiries and if the answer is no, take the described action steps to practice good fall prevention:
1. Do you sleep through the night without getting up to go to the bathroom?
If you get up frequently (3 or more times each night), tell your doctor. Consider using a urinal or commode beside the bed. Consider not drinking anything after dinner.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist
2. Can you get in and out of bed easily on your own?
Ask the doctor for a referral to a community occupational therapist to determine what equipment or other recommendations will work for you.
3. Do you have a phone beside your bed?
Plug in another phone next to the bed or keep a portable phone beside your bed.
Always wear your personal alarm system that you use to call for help near your bed if needed.
4. Can you turn on a light before you get out of bed?
Use a bedside lamp or “touch light” that you can reach easily.
Install a motion sensor nightlight in the bedroom that will automatically turn on when you get up.
Get a reliable, lightweight flashlight with an easy to use on/off switch and put it at the side of your bed. Have spare batteries in your bedside drawer. This is important in case of a power failure.
5. Does your bedspread or top blanket always stay on your bed without hanging down onto the floor?
Make sure that your bedspread does not hang down on the floor or remove it at night so that it does not create a tripping hazard.
Make sure that your bed and bedding allows you to get in and out of bed easily without getting tangled up.
1. Can you get in and out of your favorite chair or sofa easily on your own.
Change the height of the chair or sofa to knee level. Make sure it is stable.
Consider buying a new chair with firm seating, solid armrests and that is correct for your height, depth and width.
Avoid swivel and rocking chairs that do not lock.
Consider an electric lift chair if you are unable to stand without assistance.
Consider requesting a home occupational therapy assessment.
2. Are your walking areas clear of furniture and tripping hazards?
Electrical cords can be fastened to the floor along the base of the wall with clips or tape to keep them off the walking path.
Remove tripping or slipping hazards that clutter your walking pathways (e.g. newspaper/magazine holders, waste basket)
BATHROOM & TOILET
1. Can you move around in the bathroom easily without holding onto towel rails, taps, the toilet roll holder, shower screens, walls or doors?
Contact a home health retailer to determine if one or more grab bars can be installed in locations that are easily accessible if you were to lose your balance.
2. Are you able to get in and out of the tub or shower easily on your own? If no
Ask for a referral to the Home Health OT to assess your needs for helpful devices. This could be a bath/shower chair or bench in the tub/shower and a hand held shower.
Discuss whether you need assistance with bathing
3. Do all the mats or throw rugs on your bathroom floor stay securely in place if you step on them and push with your foot?
Use mats with non-slip backing to prevent them from moving around on the floor. Note: Best to remove all loose mats or hang them on the side of the tub.
4. Do you avoid using bath oils or talcum powder in your bathroom?
Best to not use these products.
If you must use talcum powder, use it over a carpeted surface and then shake carpe
Information reprinted with permission from the resource manual: Promoting Active Living (PAL) with special thanks to lead author Dr. Vicky Scott