Preventing our patients from falling is one of the many important steps in keeping our patients safe. As health care providers, we identify potential issues to avoid falls. During Fall Prevention Month in September, we work to share our knowledge about the risks of falls and how to prevent them with everyone in our community.
The statistics are alarming. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death in the world, and they are a major cause of personal injury requiring medical attention. Up to 2.3 million children under the age of 14, and 2.2 million adults visit emergency departments every year to be treated for injuries sustained from a fall. Each year, one out of every three adults older than 65 falls. But less than half of these older adults choose to discuss this with their doctors. Often, they fear losing their independence or learning of a more complex diagnosis.
Talk to your primary medical doctor. Many balance issues can be linked to medicine use, especially if you are taking four or more medications. Sometimes, an inner ear or vision problem is the cause.
There are ways to help make your living environments safer, including:
- Getting balance issues addressed
- Exercising and working on flexibility
- Cleaning up clutter in your home and adding night lights into halls, stairwells and rooms that you may enter during the night
- Wearing supportive and well-fitting shoes (avoid slippers that may slide on hard surfaces or that shift around loosely on feet)
- Getting your vision checked
- Using hand rails, grab bars, bath mats and adhesive strips in the bathtub
- Removing throw rugs
Physical therapy also can help you prevent falls by:
- Teaching strength, flexibility and balance exercises
- Teaching other strategies that assist with improving balance
- Assisting with acquiring equipment or services that will improve home safety
Do yourself a favor or encourage loved ones, friends or neighbors to seek medical advice for any of these issues to prevent any life threatening injuries due to a fall. If you have any questions or want to learn more about fall prevention, call St. Anthony’s Sports and Therapy Services at 314-849-2366.