Spring is here! If you plan on cleaning and organizing your home as part of spring cleaning, now is the perfect time to make sure your clean home is also a falls free home.
Falls aren’t an inevitable part of aging, but they are common. In Vermont, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and injury-related emergency department visits. According to the CDC, one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. In fact, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
The truth is falls threaten the health and independence of older adults. As you spring clean, you can remove home hazards and reduce the risk for falls for yourself as well as your family and friends.
- When you walk through a room, do you need to walk around furniture? Ask family or friends to help you rearrange furniture to create clear walking paths.
- Do you have throw rugs on the floor? Throw rugs can be a slip and fall hazard. You can remove throw rugs from your house or use double-sided tape or nonslip backings to make sure the rugs won’t slip or move.
- Do you have cords or wires that you have to walk over or around? Taping cords and wires next to the wall can limit your risk of tripping on them.
- Are there objects on the floor or stairs, such as papers, shoes, books, or decorations? Find them spaces on shelves and in closets where they won’t pose a tripping hazard.
- Having difficulty getting out of the shower or tub, or getting up around certain parts of your house? Consider having grab bars installed that can help you keep your balance.
Beyond removing home hazards, older adults can reduce their risk of falls in a variety of ways. There are exercise groups that focus on preventing falls and improving balance, such as Tai Chi. Your primary care physician can review prescriptions and over the counter medications that you take to assess for any medication that can increase your falls risk.
Older adults who are concerned about falls should talk to their health care providers. Their provider may be able to offer a falls risk assessment during a regular appointment, or provide a referral to the UVMMC Falls Prevention Clinic or a similar clinic closer to you. To contact the clinic for more information please call 802-847-1902.