Fall Prevention to Remain Independent
Most of us want to be able to age in place-to stay in our home until the end. One of the best ways to do that is to prevent a fall.
A fall by any other name is:
A slip is when your foot slides out from underneath you such as when the throw rug slides under your foot or your slipper slides off.
A trip is when something catches your foot like the leg of a chair or the lip of a sidewalk.
A fall is an unplanned change in body position that leaves you on the ground or other lower area such as a chair or couch. Falls can be caused by a slip, a trip, or a variety of health events-medication interactions, dizziness, heart conditions or breathing conditions just to name a few.
According to the CDC 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling and 40% of hip fractures require nursing home admissions. It takes an average of 6 months to recover from hip replacement surgery. Think of how much your body aches when you spend the weekend lying on the couch watching tv all day. When you do get up and get going your muscles are a bit sorer from not being active. The same is true when you lay in a hospital bed. Your body experiences this discomfort along with the pain from surgery potentially making it more challenging to participate in physical therapy that you need to get back home.
Besides the issues surrounding having surgery there are several other issues that come up that may not be considered. You will need to have a catheter inserted into your bladder for the surgery. If there is a delay in surgery the hospital may put the catheter in place ahead of time because you are unable to get up to go to the bathroom and using a bedpan is too painful. Catheters potentially increase your risk of a urinary tract infection. If the UTI goes undetected, you may experience delirium. Delirium is acute confusion and disorientation that can give the appearance of advanced dementia or mental illness. The good news is that once the UTI is gone your cognitive functions return to normal. When the catheter is removed, you may experience bladder spasms that give the sense of needing to go more frequently and more urgently-sometimes leaving you rushing to the bathroom-an unwise proposition on a good day, and particularly challenging when recuperating from a fracture.
Other effects of falling-
- Not moving for a long period of time can impact your lung function. You are more prone to get pneumonia when you don’t take the long deep breaths that moving around encourages.
- The side effects of pain medications can leave you foggy headed, constipated, and unsteady on your feet.
- The fear of falling again can encourage a lack of movement-and lack of exercise can increase your risk of falling again.
It’s good to get to know your neighbors. Ask for help-you don’t have to be the one to clean the gutters or climb the step ladder to change the curtains. An ounce of prevention is worth the pain of the cure!
5 Do It Yourself Fall Prevention Tips
- Stay physically active-go for a walk, dance, or garden-Whatever you like to do-Keep moving!
- Take all of your medications and vitamins to your pharmacist and ask if them to check if there could be any drug interactions.
- Pick up throw rugs-they look pretty but they may cost you your independence
- Add nightlights and change your light-bulbs to brighter ones.
- Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet-there are new styles that don’t look like grab bars.