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Tips for Minimizing Your Fall Risk

Tips for Minimizing Your Fall Risk

Fall risks are all around, but when your mobility is impaired, fall risks are amplified. As such, so should be your awareness of these risks.

Alarming facts

To help increase your awareness and encourage you to minimize your risks, here are some alarming facts about falls from the Center of Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC):1

  • The rate of death from falls has increased 31% from 2007 to 2016 among US residents aged 65 and older.
  • 1 out of 5 falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

After a person sustains a fall, even if not injured, they are more likely to develop a fear of falling, which causes them to be less active. However, a more sedentary lifestyle actually increases their risk even more for falling and obtaining an injury or even leading to death. Fear management should certainly be addressed when assessing fall risk.

Increased risk

What exactly would constitute someone as having impaired mobility and be at an increased risk of falling? This can include certain medical diagnoses such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes, which can cause impaired sensation of the feet and vision problems. Even consider impairing side effects from diagnoses such as cancer affecting overall strength, walking, and endurance. No matter the diagnosis, impaired mobility can encompass anything from an impaired gait pattern, slower gait speed, the need for the use of an assistive device, decreased strength, impaired balance, impaired activity tolerance or endurance, impaired sensation, impaired vision, pain, and limited flexibility. Even having issues with bladder/bowel incontinence can put you at an increased risk of falling due to feeling like you have to hastily rush to the bathroom at times.

Be proactive

If you deal with any of these, you may wish to speak with your doctor about ways to directly manage them. Consider even seeing a physical therapist to address them through specific interventions to improve your overall mobility and decrease your fall risk. Often times, these impairments occur in combination with one another, not just singularly, as well as in conjunction with other factors such as advanced age, having depression and/or anxiety, and certain medications use and side effects.2 Being proactive about managing what you are able should be your first approach.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors play a large role in falls as well. While public places should be up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards to allow access for all mobility levels, hence decreasing fall risks, we know that this, unfortunately, is not always the case.3 I highly encourage you to advocate for ADA accessible standards in all public places, but let’s also not overlook the accessibility and safety of where you most likely spend majority of your time: your home.

Your own home

There are several factors you can address within your home to minimize or prevent falling. These include:

  • Removing or securing all rugs
  • Taking extra caution with pets
  • Repairing poor flooring
  • Improving poor lighting
  • Clearing clutter
  • Installing handrails on stairs
  • Using assistive devices or other durable medical equipment properly
  • Ensuring no cords or wires are impeding pathways
  • Installing grab bars in the bathroom around the commode and shower/bathtub

In addition, if you live alone, consider getting a life alert button to wear around your neck or keep a phone in your pocket at all times, keep items often used within easy reach, and always wear proper fitting shoes with a rubber sole.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Home and Recreational Safety. (2017, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
  2. Falls. (2018, February 12). Retrieved from https://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=85726fb6-14c4-4c16-9a4c-3736dceac9f0#HowCanPhysicalTherapistHelp
  3. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities. Retrieved from https://www.access-board.gov/attachments/article/1350/adaag.pdf

Comments

  • asapcynthia
    2 months ago

    This couldn’t come at a better time. Six am and fell in the kitchen. Know why? Mail. I have been in an issue with my husband he just drops his shoes sock stuff everywhere. For crying out loud I hosted Thanksgiving around the gun case (he hunts). I repeat myself constantly if you have to leave your junk around can’t you leave it one place. Same with the mail. He opens some, he looks at some and then he leaves it all the counter. This time of year it’s catalogs.
    When I make coffee sometimes I put my hand on the counter for support. Same spot, every day. Well, he left a bunch of catalogs on the counter, the rest of the mail is on the table. So I put my hand in my usually spot, however those nice shiny catalogs we’re there. Anyways my hand slid out from under me and boom down I go. I am at a point in my life where where I need someone who puts ms first. I can’t help it. I have made all the accommodations I can. Grab bars, a walker, I even had the bathroom door enlarged so I can fit my walker thru there. The door is the size of the front door, looks a bit odd but allows me access. When is the point he starts making accommodations? I am starting to worry for my safety. He went hunting and left the garage door up. He never fixed it and you have do it manually, but I can’t. A neighbor came and told me about it and put it down, but I spent the night alone with the door up, and somebody could have easily broken in and done who knows what. His answer when I told him, oops.

  • Janus Galante moderator
    2 months ago

    This is such a difficult issue for many people and I don’t fully get why it should be?

    For some, if the least thing is not where you’re accustomed to where it should be, it can be hazardous, and I’m sorry you experienced that very thing!

    I’m hoping that this story and your reply to it, will help others to be much more aware and intentional in their efforts to make a safer environment for all of us to be able to get around in our own homes without fear of falling! Janus

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