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The complete home fall prevention checklist

By Vicki Seppell, Physical Therapist  |  4/5/2017

Winter is a time of year when people are more aware about risks for falling – largely due to the conditions brought on by inclement weather.  However, fall prevention is something to maintain a healthy awareness of year round.  Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for people aged 65 and older, according to the National Council on Aging.

Things to consider for fall prevention are:

  • Have adequate lighting inside and around the outside of your home. 
  • Use flashlights or nightlights if you get up in the middle of the night.
  • Keep your floors clear of potential hazards, such as throw rugs and clutter.
  • Wear non-skid shoes inside your home. Refrain from wearing only socks or slippers as they tend to be slippery and could increase chances of falling.
  • See your primary care physician regularly to review all of your medications. 
  • Be proactive in properly managing any ongoing medical conditions that you have.
  • If you notice any changes in your vision or hearing, consult with your doctor. 
  • If you notice any significant decrease in your strength or balance, consult with your doctor.
  • Stay active! Many people believe that the best way to keep from falling is to stop or avoid moving. However, an increasing sedentary lifestyle contributes to an increased fall risk. 
  • Make sure your home is safe for you. If you have difficulty rising from the toilet, getting in the shower or going down stairs, you may benefit from having grab bars installed. Also, if you have difficulty walking, you may benefit from an assistive device such as a walker or cane. 
  • If you live alone, make it a daily practice to check in with a family member, trusted neighbor or friend. 
  • Keep a portable phone or cell phone in your pocket as you move around your house. Consider a life-alert-type button to wear all the time. A phone or life-alert button afford you the opportunity to get help sooner should a fall occur.

In summary, be proactive with your lifestyle! Avoid the mentality of "Falls can't happen to me." Further, if you're concerned that you might be at risk for falling and could benefit from professional guidance, talk to your doctor and request a prescription for physical therapy to further assess and provide skilled intervention for your needs. Our Rehabilitation Service centers are conveniently located all around the Hudson Valley. For further information, visit http://healthquest.org/physicaltherapy.

The Outpatient Rehabilitation Services office in Hyde Park will host an Open House with complimentary balance evaluations, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 22. Information will be given on office specialties related to sports medicine, orthopedics, fall prevention, stroke, brain injuries, hand therapy, Lymphedema therapy and more. To learn more, please call the office at 845-298-2899.

Health Quest also supports the Matter of Balance program, designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults. Please call the Dutchess County Office for the Aging at 845-486-2555 for more information on this program. 

Vicki Seppell is a physical therapist and specializes in vestibular therapy. She is based at Putnam Hospital Center. To make an appointment with Vicki, please call 845-279-1785 (TTY: 800-421-1220).