Often times, this blog gives you some advice on what to do when your health care-related fears are realized. This week, we’re going to shift gears a little bit and focus more on the prevention of injury rather than how to handle one after the fact. When a kid or young adult falls, it does not seem out of the ordinary and unless it is an extreme circumstance, they will typical get up and brush themselves off as though nothing happened. On the other hand, for older adults, falls can be traumatic medical events, particularly if they are living alone and are unable to contact emergency responders, family members or friends to help them.
Falls are so easily prevented, yet people are often neglecting to make simple changes to their homes or lifestyles and situations that could have been avoided turn into tragedies that cannot be reversed. So let’s break down all of the adjustments that can make the home a safer environment and make you or a loved one less susceptible to falls.
Start by resolving any obstructions you might have to your vision. For example, if you have cataracts, consider getting treatment so that you can see more clearly. If you don’t usually wear glasses but suddenly your vision is headed downhill, see a doctor and discuss some prescription lenses. Keep the lights on or install night lights in your home when you know you might be walking around at night. There may be obstacles in your path and if you can’t see them in the dark, you’re walking right into a bad situation (literally). It sounds childish to some, but more average adults use them than you might think and you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to preserve your health and safety.
Other medical conditions could present a problem. If you have a condition that causes dizziness/imbalance (even a simple ear infection) or take medication that makes you disoriented, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later. Your condition can most likely be treated and your medications can probably be changed or adjusted so that the side effects are less problematic in your daily life. The last thing you need if you’re already treating one problem is to create another one by taking a fall.
Exercise. As much as so many of us can’t stand the thought of a trip to the gym or worry about injuring ourselves that way, we cannot avoid the simple fact that it assists in solving most of the human body’s problems. You can even go a little easy on yourself with water aerobics, taking a walk or just something that will strengthen your legs and improve your balance. That should significantly reduce your risk by rendering two potential risk factors irrelevant.
Don’t put yourself in danger for the sake of laziness or fashion. High heels are most likely not necessary and if you absolutely MUST wear them, don’t wear them in the house and beware of your surroundings, particularly what kind of surface you are walking on and be sure to have someone or something to support you while you walk. On the laziness front, slippers are awesome, I understand. However, take into consideration that while it may be easier to find a simple pair of slippers, take the time to find a pair with traction on the bottom that your feet won’t slip out of as you walk. It’s an accident waiting to happen and honestly, a different pair of shoes is much more sensible solution.
Finally, I beg of you, do not let vanity prevent you from installing safety devices in your home. By all means use the gripping floor mats or shower chairs in your shower or bath tub. Don’t shy away from arm rests/handles on both sides of the toilet or hand rails in the shower. Make sure you have hand rails on all of the staircases in your home. Life Alert and similar devices are also extremely helpful in emergency situations because if you do fall, you’re able to get immediate assistance. Trust me, you don’t want to rely on the hope that someone will waltz into your home soon and find you or realize something is wrong and call for help on your behalf. Make sure you can fend for yourself, as well, even if it means admitting you need a little help.