Beech Street Health Centre | Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Fall prevention

By Physiotherapist, Kathleen Zinck

Ask a family member or friend to help you go through this information and check off ways that you can make your home safer and prevent falls. Talk to a Physiotherapist to see if a mobility aid such as a cane or a walker is appropriate. If you already have a cane or walker, ask a qualified professional to go over safety features and set the correct height for you.

Stairs:

FallPrevention
  • If possible, Install handrails on both sides of your stairs. Make sure the handrails are the same length as your stairs.

  • Always keep stairs free of clutter to avoid tripping and falling.

  • Ensure that there is a light switch on the top and the bottom of the stairs.

  • Hire someone or ask a family member or friend to fix loose or crooked stairs and/ or railings.

  • If your stairs have carpet, ensure that the carpet is firmly attached to the floor. If your stairs are not carpeted, attach non-slip rubber treads to avoid slipping and falling.

  • If you have steps outside, hire somebody or ask a family member or friend to paint your outside steps with a mixture of paint and sand paper for better grip when the surface is wet or snow has fallen.

  • Hire someone or ask a family member or friend to keep your walkways and outside steps free of ice, snow, newspapers, and leaves.

  • Always have a light on for your outdoor entrances and stairs.

Kitchen:

  • Keep things that you use often in easy reach, either on lower shelves or on the counter. Do not climb to reach things.

  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Think about using a meal delivery program or buy meals that are easy to make.

  • If you use a walker, a tray attachment makes it easier and safer to carry things around your kitchen.

Bathroom:

  • Talk to your therapist about safety equipment for the bathroom such as grab bars, raised toilet seats, bath benches or seats, etc.

  • Have a non-slip rubber mat or non-slip adhesive strips put in your tub.

  • If you have a hard time getting in or out of the tub, try sponge-bathing more often, ask for help, or use a bath chair.

Clothing:

  • Wear non-slip, low-healed shoes, indoor sneakers, or slippers that fit well.

  • Do not walk around in socks; they can be more slippery than shoes or slippers with a good soul.

  • Wear clothes that will not inhibit walking or moving. For example, dresses or pants that are too long, wide, or have too much material at the bottom (ie. wide legged pants) can get in the way.

In your home:

  • Make sure all areas of your home are well-lit.

  • Have a lamp or light switch near your bed that you can reach easily without getting up. A β€œtouch lamp” is a great idea.

  • Have a night light in your hallways, bedroom, or bathroom.

  • Keep pathways to all rooms free of clutter. This is especially important if you use a walk aid and/or get up during the night.

  • Take out small rugs and mats that are not fixed to the floor to reduce the risk of the mat from slipping or tripping on turned up edge.

  • Keep all electrical wires and telephone cords secured safely out of pathways.

Tips to prevent Falls:

  • Use assistive devices and safety equipment as directed by your Physiotherapist.

  • Have your eyesight and hearing tested regularly.

  • Review all your medications with your Doctor and/or Pharmacist on a regular basis if you feel off-balance or dizzy.

  • Exercise regularly to improve your muscle strength, balance, and coordination. A Physiotherapist can design an exercise program specifically for your needs such as: stretching for restricted muscles or joints, strengthening exercises to address muscular weaknesses, and balance exercises to improve safety.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet.

  • Be mindful about how much alcohol you drink.

  • Get up slowly after lying down or sitting. Take your time to make sure you are not dizzy before standing up.

  • Ask for help loading the car with awkward items that can affect your balance.

  • Have your telephone or cell phone in easy reach. A cordless phone beside your bed is optimal.

  • Keep emergency numbers in large print next to each phone.

  • Think about wearing an emergency response button. If you are prone to falling, the phone may be out of your reach if you are injured.

For more information about fall prevention, please talk to your Physiotherapist at Beech Street Health Centre via phone at (902) 406-7200 or email by contact form.

Reference: Nova Scotia Health Authority Patient and Family Guide: Fall Prevention

Tyler Graves