Falling down is a frequent problem for people as we get older and the consequences can be very serious. Falls can result in major problems such as head injuries or fractures. Hip fractures are a common result of falls and can lead to a long recovery. Shoulder and wrist fractures can even result in loss of motion. It is much better to prevent falls than to have to deal with the injuries that can result!
So, how do we prevent falls? Nothing can guarantee that you will never fall, but there are some easy steps you can take to minimize your risk of falling.
Get up Slowly From a Bed or Chair
Many falls occur when people first get up from bed or out of a chair. If you get up too quickly, and your blood pressure has not had a chance to normalize, you could get dizzy.
When you do need to get up, especially in the middle of the night, sit up on the edge of the bed for a minute. Then stand while you are holding onto the bedframe or a table. Once you are sure you are not dizzy, start walking. If you do experience dizziness when you get up, keep a cane or walker near the bed or chair. If you get up during the middle of the night, it is also very important to turn on a light.
Pick up Clutter at Home
Clutter, furniture and rugs are another source of falls. Many people inherit things over the years and their houses get more and more cluttered. When their halls or walkways get too narrow, they can catch a hip on the corner of a table or a dresser and fall.
Pass on or donate excess furniture and other items to keep your home clear of obstructions. Not only will you be less likely to fall, but your home will be easier to keep clean! It is also a good idea to remove throw rugs as they can catch on your foot and make you trip.
Be Cautious in Inclement Weather
Slippery, icy conditions are a frequent source of falls and fractures. If your sidewalk or driveway is slippery, gradually spread salt or sand and clean up the ice step by step until you have a safe path to the car or mailbox.
Many people have the habit of picking up their mail as soon as it arrives, or feel the need to get to the store no matter the weather. Try to resist this urge. It is safer to wait for the sun to melt the ice or for a friend or family member to bring in the mail or run to the store. Remember that sometimes the ice is so thin you can’t see it, so if it is cold out, be wary that pavement may be slippery. We value our pride and independence, but remember it’s always okay to ask for help!
If you notice symptoms that are hindering your balance, it could be beneficial to visit your healthcare provider. The physical therapists at Stevens Point Orthopedics are happy to see you, help you improve your balance and reduce your risk of falls. We even offer comprehensive balance and fall risk assessments.
Remember, good balance is not something that you get overnight—it takes some work. Be thoughtful, be careful and stay safe!