Fall Prevention - 5 simple steps to prevent falls
Why fall prevention is so important for geriatric patients
Every doctor who works with a geriatric population knows that when the falls begin, the geriatric patient is entering the final stages of his or her life. Falls in the geriatric population are difficult to heal for a number of reasons. First, healing in the geriatric population is slowed due to a delayed inflammatory and immune response. Circulation may be decreased and upper body strength is often limited. Therefore, a fall can have catastrophic outcomes including the inability to walk again, pneumonia due to prolonged bed rest and increased potential for deep venous thrombosis (DVT/blood clot).
The older we become, the greater the fear of falling to the ground. Many of my patients tell me that if they were to fall, they would not be able to get up by themselves.
Simple steps can be taken around the home to prevent falls. These steps include:
Remove loose items on the floor such as throw rugs, piles of magazines or newspaper and loose edges of carpet or tile.
- Hand rails - watch the owner of the house in their normal routines. They will teeter from countertop to door frame. Observe where they have no supports and add hand rails.
- Supportive shoes - many geriatric patients default to slip-on shoes. Slip-ons are far easier to get on but provide very poor support. Wear a lace-up shoe when possible.
- Strength training - I know it sounds funny getting your mom or grandma into a yoga or tai chi class, but it works. Yoga renews that relationship with the floor and tai chi is all about balance.
- Avoid unfamiliar surroundings - stepping out into unfamiliar surroundings, like a dark restaurant or movie house requires increased vigilance on the part of the family.
It just takes a second to fall. And it just takes a couple of minutes to prevent falls. It matters - take that couple of minutes and prevent a fall.