Falling is very common, and it can happen to just about anyone. But, there are certain factors that can make you even more likely to trip and fall. For instance, as you get older, you may find that you are not quite as steady on your feet as you once were. In fact, falling is one of the main causes of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma and loss of independence for individuals who are age 65 and older. This is particularly concerning because, after falling, a senior may experience serious injuries that require long-term care.
Some additional factors that can increase your likelihood of falling include:
- Previous falls
- A fear of falling
- Muscle weakness
- Balance problems
- Numbness or tingling in the legs or feet
- Walking difficulties
- Reliance on a cane or walker
- Poor vision
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- The use of certain medications, such as sleeping aids, laxatives, diuretics, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants and pain relievers
Even if you aren’t at risk for falls, it’s still important to be cautious. One way is to make some simple changes around your living areas to make them safer for both yourself and others. The fact is, the majority of falls happen at home, most likely because that’s where people tend to feel most comfortable and move about without thinking about their safety.
Here are some effective ways to help “fall proof” your home:
- Remove loose items that could cause you to slip or trip, such as throw rugs, electrical cords, ottomans and other low pieces of furniture, toys, pet dishes and general clutter.
- Attach rugs and carpets securely to the floor and stairs.
- Arrange furniture so that you have plenty of room to walk around freely.
- Apply non-slip strips to slippery floor surfaces like those in bathtubs and showers.
- Clean up spills right away.
- Ensure that there is good lighting in each room, entranceway, stairway and walkway.
- Use nightlights in each bathroom, hallway and kitchen, and keep a flashlight beside your bed that you can use in the event of a power outage.
- Install grab bars and handrails in each tub and shower, and next to each toilet.
- Use a shower chair and hand-held shower head so that you can bathe while seated.
- Relocate items that you use often to make them more accessible.
If you have concerns about how your cancer treatment might increase your risk of falling, you can discuss them with an expert at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our Balance and Mobility Clinic offers one-on-one individualized evaluation and assessment of your particular balance, strength, safety, mobility or self-care impairment. A personalized program and education is also available to further address your needs. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or completing a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.