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Preventing Falls At Home

Here are some tips to help prevent a fall at home and everywhere you go

Make sure you have good lighting:

  • Keep stairs well lit.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed.
  • Use wall switches to turn on lights, or install voice- or sound-activated lamps to make lights easier to turn on and off.
  • Put night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.

Reduce the chance of tripping or slipping:

  • Keep rooms, floors, hallways and stairs free of clutter.
  • Carpets or rugs should be tacked to the floor or have non-skid backing.
  • Remove low tables, footstools, electric cords and other items from your path.
  • Clean up spills as soon as they happen.
  • Do not wax floors.
  • Use handrails on stairs and in the bathroom.
  • Use a rubber mat in the shower or tub.

Wear good shoes:

  • Wear sturdy shoes with low heels and non-skid soles.
  • Avoid shoes with thick, heavy soles.
  • Avoid walking around in socks, stockings or loose slippers.
  • Shoes should fit snugly and all laces should be tied.

Take care of yourself:

  • Take care of your feet. Tell your doctor if you have pain or if you have large thick nails or corns.
  • Get regular doctor and eye checkups. If you cannot see well because of cataracts or other eye problems, this can lead to falls.
  • Use a cane or walker if your doctor suggests it. If you use one, make sure it is in good repair and adjusted for you.
  • Limit use of alcohol and tobacco.
  • Get regular physical activity to keep your bones and muscles strong.
  • Take your medicines on schedule.

Stay safe!

  • Do not climb or reach to high shelves.
  • If you must, use a stable step stool that has wide steps and handrails.
  • Better yet, arrange things at counter level so you do not need to stoop down or reach up.
  • Carry a portable phone that you can take from room to room. You can answer the phone without rushing to it, and can use the phone to call for help.
  • If the weather is nasty, use a walker or cane for extra help, wear warm boots with rubber soles, walk on grass instead of a slippery sidewalk and sprinkle kitty litter on slippery sidewalks or streets.

Keep in touch with someone:

  • Have a family member or friend who you can call for help.
  • Make sure there is one person who always knows where you are.
  • Plan for someone to make contact with you every day.
  • If you live alone, you may wish to hire a company that will respond to your call 24 hours a day.

Tell your doctor or the hospital:

  • If you have dizzy spells, trouble walking, weak legs, confusion or if you ever feel "off balance."
  • If you have fallen, take a list of your medicines when you go to the doctor's office or hospital.

What to do if you fall at home or in public

Stay Calm

  • Check out your situation and decide if you are hurt.
  • Do not get up if you are hurt.

If you can get up from the floor:

  • Move to a sitting position on the floor. Rest for a few moments and calm down.
  • Find the nearest sturdy chair or other strong, solid piece of furniture.
  • Roll over on your hands and knees. Crawl to the chair.
  • Put your strongest leg under you so that the foot of that leg is on the floor. Push up, using your arms on the chair for support.
  • Sit down until you feel safe to try to walk.

If you cannot get up from the floor:

  • Call for help.
  • If you are alone, crawl slowly to the nearest telephone and dial 911 or call a relative or friend to help.

If you are hurt or feel confused:

  • Get medical help right away.
  • Let your doctor know that you fell.

If you are not hurt:

  • Even if you are not hurt, tell your doctor that you fell.
  • Your doctor can help you find out why you fell and how to prevent other falls. Falling can be related to other medical problems.
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