Preventing Household Slips and Falls

Everybody’s done it. Maybe you’re in a rush. Maybe you didn’t have time to pick up a pile of clothing, or you didn’t see that extension cord sticking out. Whatever the reason, everybody’s taken a spill or two in their home. Most of the time you’re ok, and you suffer nothing more than a bruised knee or a hurt ego.

Unfortunately, household falls sometimes can be quite serious, especially for the elderly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls account for four out of every five injury-related hospitalizations for seniors. What’s worse, 20 percent of deaths related to an injury can be traced back to a fall.

There are many obstacles around the house that could cause falls leading to serious injuries, including pets underfoot, clutter, cords and narrow passage ways. Other obstacles could be clothing or footwear; slippers that fall off easily; slippery socks on a tile floor; pants that are too long or wide at the foot; or robes and sleepwear that are too big.

Sometimes, falls are caused by climbing on an unsteady step stool or slipping on a wet surface.

At Good Shepherd we see all kinds of injuries related to falls – shoulder rotator cuff injuries, arm fractures, hip fractures, back injuries or spine injuries and brain injuries. What might be a simple trip and fall in the bedroom could turn into a trip to a rehabilitation facility and often a change in your lifestyle.

But there are things you can do around your house to prevent falls.

• Reduce clutter.
• Arrange furniture to keep pathways open.
• Take your time and be especially careful on steps.
• Put adequate lighting and visual aids at thresholds and steps.
• Do not carry too many things at once. Take an extra trip or use a backpack to keep hands free for hand rails, a cane or a walker.
• Wear proper footwear and fitted clothing.
• Use proper equipment for the task. Use a sturdy step stool or small ladder to reach high items. Or reduce the need to climb up by rearranging household items used frequently.
• Use pet gates or crates to keep animals out from under your feet.
• Wear braces, eyeglasses and walking devices as prescribed.
• If you’re experiencing dizziness or changes in vision, go see your doctor.

Trips and falls can be serious and sometimes life-altering. But a little household cleanup can go a long way to saving you from a trip to the hospital.

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