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Preventing falls

Alternate names

Home safety; Safety in the home; Fall prevention

What to expect at home

People with medical problems are at risk of falling or tripping. This can result in broken bones or more serious injuries. Making changes in your home helps lower your risk of falling.

Home setup

Have a bed that is low, so that your feet touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed.

Keep tripping hazards out of your home.

Have good lighting.

Stay safe in the bathroom.

Re-organize the home so things are easier to reach. Keep a portable phone with you so you have it when you need to make or receive calls.

Set up your home so that you do not have to climb steps.

If you do not have a caregiver, ask your health care provider or nurse about having someone come to your home to check for safety problems.

Home care

Weak muscles that make it more difficult to stand up or keep your balance are a common cause of falls. Balance problems can also cause falls.

When you walk, avoid sudden movements or changes in position. Wear shoes with low heels that fit well. Rubber soles can help keep you from slipping. Stay away from water or ice on sidewalks.

Do not stand on step ladders or chairs to reach things.

Ask your health care provider about medicines you may be taking that can make you dizzy. Your doctor may be able to make some medication changes that could reduce falls.

Ask your health care provider about a cane or walker. If you use a walker, attach a small basket to it to keep your phone and other important items in.

Exercise to help build your strength

When you stand up from a sitting position, go slowly. Hold on to something. If you are having problems getting up, ask your health care provider about seeing a physical therapist. The therapist can show you how to build your strength to make getting up easier.

When to call the doctor

Call your health care provider if you have fallen, or if you almost fall. Also call your health care provider if your eyesight has worsened. Improving your vision will help reduce falls.

References

Gillespie LD, Robertson MC, Gillespie WJ, Lamb SE, Gates S, Cumming RG, Rowe BH. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD007146. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007146.pub2.

Stiles M, Walsh K. Care of the elderly patient. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 4.


Review Date: 5/28/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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