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Preventing falls

Alternate Names

Home safety; Safety in the home; Fall prevention

What to Expect at Home

People with dementia are at risk for falling or tripping. This can result in broken bones or more serious injuries. If you have dementia, you or your caregiver should make changes in your home to lower your risk for falling.

Home Setup

Have a bed that is low, so that your feet touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed.

Keep tripping hazards out of your home.

  • Remove loose wires or cords from areas you walk through to get from one room to another.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Do not keep small pets in your home.
  • Fix any uneven flooring in doorways.

Have good lighting. Put hand rails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet. Place a slip-proof mat in the bathtub or shower.

Re-organize the home so things are easier to reach. Keep a portable phone with you so you have it when you need it make or receive calls.

Set up your home so that you do not have to climb steps. Some tips are:

  • Put your bed or bedroom on the first floor.
  • Have a bathroom or a portable commode on the same floor where you spend most of your day.

See also: Bathroom safety - adults

If you do not have a caregiver, ask your health care provider or nurse about having someone come to your home to check for safety problems.

Home Care

Weak muscles that make it more difficult to stand up or keep your balance are a common cause of falls. Balance problems can also cause falls.

When you walk, avoid sudden movements or changes in your position. Wear shoes with low heels that fit well. Rubber soles will help keep you from slipping. Stay away from water or ice on sidewalks.

Do not stand on stepladders or chairs to reach things.

Ask your health care provider about medicines you may be taking that can make you dizzy. Your doctor may be able to make some medication changes that could reduce falls.

Ask your health care provider about a cane or walker. If you use a walker, attach a small basket to it to keep a phone and other important items in.

Exercise to Help Build Your Strength

When you stand up from a sitting position, go slowly. Hold on to something. If you are having problems getting up, ask your health care provider about seeing a physical therapist. The therapist can show you how to build your strength to make getting up easier.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if you have fallen, or if you almost fall. Also call your health care provider if your eyesight has worsened. Improving your vision will help reduce falls.

References

Gillespie LD, Robertson MC, Gillespie WJ, Lamb SE, Gates S, Cumming RG, Rowe BH. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD007146. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007146.pub2.

Stiles M, Walsh K. Care of the elderly patient.In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 4.

Updated: 5/30/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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