Are you at risk for falls?

Find out with our easy online falls risk self-assessment.

Talking with loved ones about falls prevention

Talk about the fear of falling.

Talk about remaining or becoming more physically active.

Don't ignore chronic pain.

Encourage use of canes and other assistive devices.

Promote good health and hydration.

About STEADY U Ohio

 

STEADY U Ohio

Steady U logoSTEADY U Ohio is a statewide collaborative falls prevention initiative, supported by Ohio government and state business partners to ensure that every county, every community and every Ohioan knows how they can prevent falls, one step at a time. This website is the source in Ohio for falls prevention information, tools and other resources.

About STEADY U Ohio
Facts about falls in Ohio
STEADY U Partners

You Can Prevent Falls

Falling is not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. By knowing and managing your risk factors, you can live a full and active life free of the fear of falling.

You can reduce your risk of falling by paying more attention to what we like to call the "Three H's:" Your home, your health and your habits.

One of caregivers’ many jobs – preventing falls

November is National Caregiver Month, which recognizes the roles caregivers play to help older loved ones remain safe and independent in their own homes and communities. One of the most important jobs a caregiver can do is to help loved ones understand their risk of falling and help them make the changes that can help prevent falls. But what can a caregiver do when their loved one doesn’t want to think about, much less talk about, falls and how to keep from falling?

A caregiver can:

  • Focus on the fun aspect of getting out and moving and doing things your loved one likes. Offer to exercise with her or do any activity she enjoys or would like to try. Being physically active helps to build balance and strengthen muscles.
  • Help your loved one re-decorate and rearrange his home. With his agreement, you can make simple, inexpensive changes that are attractive, yet still reduce the risk of slipping, tripping or falling. Installing extra lighting to brighten stairs and storing frequently used kitchen items within reach can make a loved one’s life easier, as well as safer.
  • Help your loved one clean and de-clutter her home. Again, with her agreement, you can help her get rid of clutter and move seldom used items to a safe location out the path where she usually walks.

Caregivers must balance between ensuring their loved one is safe and respecting her freedom and right to make decisions for herself. A single fall can change someone’s life significantly. Using the Falls Risk Self-assessment can help loved ones see their health and environment in new ways.

The goal is to work with your loved one to help improve the quality of his or her life. And in the process, you can reduce their risk of falls.

More caregiver tips to prevent falls...


Read past spotlight articles...

Falls prevention begins at home. As we age, our bodies change and things that were once appropriate for us may no longer be. Making your home safer starts with minor changes, but could also include both minor and major investments in safety now and into the future.

Quick Fixes

Home, Sweet Falls-Free Home

To create a falls-free home, check for common falls risks in different areas of your home:

  • Floors: Keep walkways clear. Check carpets and rugs for rips and loose threads. Check hard surfaces for cracks and raised edges. If you must use rugs, secure them to the floor with tape or tacks.
  • Stairs: Check that handrails are in good repair, are not loose and do not move when used. Fix any broken steps. Install extra lighting at the top and bottom of the staircase.
  • Kitchen: Keep frequently used items where they can be reached without bending or reaching. Invest in a sturdy step stool with a hand rail to access out-of-reach items. Have a stool or chair in the kitchen for resting while you cook.
  • Bathroom: Have handrails professionally installed in the tub and near the toilet. Use a non-slip mat in the shower. Add extra lighting.
  • Bedroom: Keep light switches or lamps within easy reach of the bed, and use them when you get up at night. Ensure that you are able to easily get into and out of bed. Look into options to raise or lower your bed as necessary.

8 Easy Home Hacks to Prevent Falls

By making a few simple changes you can make your home immediately more fall-proof with little or no expense:

  • Arrange furniture so you have clear pathways between rooms.
  • Place a telephone and lamp or flashlight near your bed; add a night light along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
  • Keep appliance and telephone cords out of walkways (do not put cords under a rug).
  • Remove loose area rugs or secure them with double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backing.
  • In the kitchen, store food, dishes and cooking equipment within easy reach; rearrange your closet to put clothes that you wear often where you can reach them without bending or stretching.
  • Repair loose carpeting or stairs. Add colored stripes to stairs for better visibility.
  • Use a rubber mat or textured strips in your bathtub or shower.

 

Good Investments

8 Smart Investments for a Falls-Free Home

Here are some simple and inexpensive items and improvements that can reduce your risk of falling in your home.

  • A folding step-stool with a hand rail for access to out-of-reach places can be purchased at most hardware, home improvement and general merchandise stores for around $50.
  • A basic cordless telephone keeps you from rushing to the phone and can be handy in emergencies. They can be purchased at most general merchandise, electronics and office supply retailers for around $20.
  • Grab bars next to the tub/shower and toilet make it safer to move around in your bathroom and cost from $15 and up at home improvement and hardware stores. Keep in mind that these should be professionally installed for maximum safety, which may add extra cost.
  • A sturdy shower chair can reduce the risk of slipping in the tub/shower and is also great for those who have trouble standing for long periods. They typically cost $35-50 and are available at most pharmacies and home medical supply retailers.
  • A raised toilet seat attaches to your current seat or toilet to provide ease getting up and down. They can cost from $25-50 at most pharmacies and home medical supply retailers. For added help, look for a model with built-in handrails.
  • Bed and chair risers can make low beds and chairs easier and safer to get in and out of. A set of four typically costs $20-40 dollars and can be purchased at most home goods, furniture and general merchandise retailers.
  • A cane or walker might be a good idea for someone who frequently uses furniture or walls to steady themselves as they walk around their home. Canes typically cost $10-20 and walkers start around $30 at most pharmacies and home medical supply stores.

In addition, you may want to consider some modifications, especially if you or a loved one live in an older home. These repairs and additions can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars, but could help you avoid many more dollars in medical costs due to a fall.

  • Have an electrician install extra lighting around your home, especially around walkways and stairs, as well as light switches by every doorway between rooms.
  • Install handrails on both sides of stairways that run the full length of the stairs and are at a standard height. This includes indoor and outdoor stairs.
  • Door sills higher than a half inch can cause you to trip. Have them professionally removed.
  • Ramps or chair lifts can greatly improve the safety of individuals who may have trouble going up and down stairs.
  • If the entry to your home has steps, consider a small deck with railings to make it easier to go in and out.

If you aren't able or can't afford to take on these projects, there may be organizations in your community that can help. Ask your area agency on aging, city or county office on aging, community action center, senior center or local United Way office about available programs in your area. Find services where you live...

Stairs

Keep Your Stairs from Tripping You Up

Stairs can be particularly dangerous for someone who may not be as strong or flexible as they once were. However a few minor changes and smart habits can make you safer going up and down at home or in the community.

At home, give your stairs a good safety check.

  • Handrails are essential for stair safety, even if there are just a few steps. Every staircase should have a sturdy railing on at least one side, though both sides is even better.
  • Most homes need more lighting around the stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulbs recommended for your fixtures. If there is not a light switch at both the top and bottom of long staircases, have an electrician install one. Consider having floor-level lighting added to your stairs for added visibility.
  • Another way to improve stair safety is to increase the contrast around the edges of the steps. This can be done with a strip of bright tape or paint at the front of each step. Use a slightly different color on the top and bottom steps
  • Check your stairs for loose or cracked boards, loose or torn carpet or other signs of wear, and have these repaired to minimize tripping and slipping.
  • Do not store items in stairwells or hang things on handrails.

In addition, adopt these smart habits to be safe on stairs at home and when you are out and about.

  • When carrying items up and down stairs, keep one hand free to hold the railing. Also make sure that your vision of the stairs in front of you is not blocked by your load.
  • Consider a messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack to help carry items up and down stairs.
  • When out at night, keep a small flashlight in your purse or pocket to light the way on poorly-lit stairs.
  • Slow down and focus on the task of going up and down. Don’t try to multitask (including holding a conversation) on stairs.
  • Trust your instincts. If a staircase doesn’t look safe for you (i.e., it’s poorly lit, steep, in bad repair or lacking handrails), find another way or ask for help.
  • Be aware that reading or multi-focal eyeglasses can affect how well you judge distances to the next step. Talk to your eye care professional about options to see safely on stairs and while walking.

Bathrooms

Make Your Bathroom A Falls-Free Zone

Almost 80 percent of falls in the home occur in the bathroom, and according to the CDC, more than 200,000 seniors are treated in emergency rooms each year for bathroom-related injuries. However, the addition of some simple and inexpensive safety features can make your bathroom cozy, relaxing and, most importantly, safe.

Do you know somebody who uses a nearby towel rack or the shower curtain rod to steady themselves in the tub or shower? This is a bad idea if you weigh more than a towel or shower curtain. Professionally installed grab bars provide more support and are much safer. Have reachable grab bars installed to help get in and out of the tub or shower, as well as for getting on and off the toilet.

Additional tips for a safer bathroom:

  • Install a non-slip mat or strips on the floor of your bathtub or shower, and place a non-slip rug or mat on the floor at the entry and exit point of the shower or tub.
  • Install a seat in the shower or tub or invest in a removable shower chair, available at most pharmacies and medical supply stores.
  • Install a bath caddy for toiletries so you don't have to stretch to reach what you want in the tub or shower.
  • Keep supplies (e.g., mop, sponges, cleansers) in the bathroom to clean up spills immediately.
  • Take a portable phone with you to the bathroom in case of emergencies.
  • Have grab bars professionally installed by the shower/tub and toilet.

Pets

Don't fall head over heels for your pet!

Many of us choose to share our homes with pets, and for good reasons. Studies have shown that owning a pet helps people socialize, increases their activity levels, and improves their mood. Pets also can lower an owner's blood pressure and decrease depression, stress and anxiety.

Even with all the health benefits, owning a pet can increase your risk of falling. Here are some tips to keep you from literally going head-over-heels for your pet:

  • Don’t step over pets on the floor – make them move.
  • Keep pet toys and supplies out of walkways.
  • Check around you to see where your pets are before walking, especially on steps and near doorways.
  • Use nightlights to help you see your pets in the dark.
  • Put a collar with a bell on your pet so that you can hear when it is near.
  • Teach your pets not to jump up on you or others while standing.
  • If your pet is large or powerful enough to push or pull you over, ask for help walking it or consider obedience classes to teach proper leash behavior.
  • Make sure your pet gets an appropriate amount of exercise; this will help it behave at home.
  • Keep water and food bowls out of walkways and clean up spills immediately.

A healthy body is a steady body. As we age, our bodies change, and those changes sometimes can increase our risk of falling. The good news is they don't have to. By understanding what happens to our bodies, making healthy choices and having ongoing conversations with our health care professionals, we can significantly reduce our risk of falling.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most important things you or your older loved ones can do to reduce the risk of falls and minimize injuries from a fall. Here are some easy exercises you can do in the safety of your home to maintain or improve your balance and help you prevent falls.

Easy Exercises to Prevent Falls - Part 1

Weight Shifting: Standing with your feet at hip-width, shift your weight to one side, lifting your opposite foot off of the floor. Hold the position as long as you can (about 30 seconds), then shift to the other side and repeat three times (or as many times as you are comfortable).

One-Legged Balancing: Start with your feet at hip-width and your hands on your hips. Lift one leg, bending at the knee, and hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Alternate with the other leg, and repeat five times (or as many times as you are comfortable).

Heel-Toe Walk: Stand with your arms straight out and your feet side by side. Focusing on a spot in front of you, take a step forward, placing the heel of the front foot directly in front of and touching the toe of your back foot. Take 10-20 steps this way, as you are comfortable.

Leg Raises: Sit in a sturdy chair with only your toes and the balls of your feet on the floor. Slowly extend one leg in front of you as straight as possible, but don't lock your knee. Flex your foot and point your toes toward the ceiling. Hold for 1 second then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch to the other leg.

Easy Exercises to Prevent Falls - Part 2

Foot Taps: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart in front of a step (the bottom step of a staircase will work) or low piece of furniture. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Slowly raise one foot to tap the step in front of you, and then return it to the floor. Perform 15 to 20 taps, then repeat on the opposite leg. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.

Head Rotations: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Slowly move your head from side to side then up and down while keep your body as still as possible. Do this for 30 seconds, then repeat. If you get dizzy, pause and move your head more slowly. If you’re still dizzy, stop. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.

Standing Marches: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. From here, lift one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as you can go) while you keep your torso straight and avoid any leaning. Pause, then slowly return your foot to the floor. Perform 20 marches, alternating between legs with each march. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.

Sit-To-Stands: Stand tall with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart. If you need to, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Sit back and slowly lower your hips onto the chair as gently as possible. Without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up. Perform 10 times. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.

These exercises will get easier the more you do them. Try to do them at least three to five times a week for best results.   If you are unsteady when you first start, use a wall, countertop or sturdy chair to help you keep your balance, or ask a family member or friend to help.

Walking also is a great exercise, and public places like indoor shopping malls and museums can give you the opportunity to get some steps in, even when the weather outside is frightful. Check with your local senior center for indoor walking groups or exercise programs.

Nutrition

You've heard it before: You are what you eat. But did you know that healthy eating can also help prevent falls? Eating nutritious foods protects bones, joints and muscles and gives you strength and stamina, which ensures that you're able to stay active and independent.

What Your Eat Can Keep You on Your Feet

The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age; for example, your body may need more of certain nutrients. Your metabolism also slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. This means that it is more important to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

The National Council on Aging recommends these steps to find the best foods for a steady body:

  • Read the Nutrition Facts label - Look for 5g or less of sugar and fat and 5g or more of fiber and protein.
  • Look for important nutrients - Choose foods that are calcium-rich and low in salt. Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral as we age.
  • Use recommended servings - To maintain your weight, eat the right amount of food for your age, body type and activity level.
  • Stay hydrated - Water is an important nutrient too. Staying properly hydrated prevents low blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue and confusion.

Learn more about senior nutrition...

Health Care

Your health care provider is an important partner in helping you or a loved one prevent falls, and they can assist the best when you discuss with them what is going on in your life and health openly and honestly.

5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Falls

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling at least annually, and talk with him or her about specific things you can do to lower your falls risk. Questions to ask your provider include:

  • Can you give me a referral to have my vision checked?
  • Are there any assistive devices that would be appropriate for me?
  • What types of physical activity would be appropriate for me?
  • Can you give me a referral for a home assessment to reduce my risk of falls at home?
  • Are there community resources or classes that could help reduce my risk for falling?

The discussion with your doctor about falls must be a two-way conversation. It's important to tell your health care professional about any events or symptoms you've experienced in the past six months that could contribute to a higher risk falling - even if he or she doesn't ask. Openly and honestly tell your doctor if:

  • You've fallen, or nearly fallen (i.e., slipped or tripped);
  • You've experienced problems with walking or balance;
  • You've felt muscle weakness or numbness in your legs or feet;
  • You've had swelling in your ankles or feet;
  • You've had difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
  • You've felt dizzy or lightheaded, or fainted;
  • You've experienced changes in hearing or vision;
  • You've seen changes in your sleep patterns;
  • You have chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis and high or low blood pressure;
  • You've felt depressed for an extended period of time;
  • You've had difficulty doing daily activities at home, such as bathing or getting dressed; or
  • You feel afraid of falling.

Tell Your Doctor if You Have Had Any Of These in the Past 6 Months

Finally, be sure talk to your doctor about chronic pain. Individuals with severe chronic pain are up to 77 percent more likely to fall than those without pain. Pain can cause you to resist activity and exercise and some pain medications can make you less stable on your feet. Talk with your doctor about the pain you experience and the best ways to treat the underlying causes of the pain.

Medication

Modern medicine is helping people live longer, healthier lives, but some prescription medications can increase your risk of falling by causing dizziness, drowsiness or numbness. They could also have other side effects that affect your balance and perception. You can avoid many risk factors that can lead to a fall and injury by being partners with your doctor and pharmacist and talking about your prescriptions.

Mind Your Medicines to Prevent Falls

  • Maintain a list of all the drugs you take, including doses, frequency and prescribing doctor. Also include any over-the-counter medicines or supplements you take. Bring the list with you to doctors' appointments and when you pick up prescriptions.
  • Read the prescription label. If it says "may cause dizziness or drowsiness," or cautions against driving, ask about the best time to take it to avoid falls. Ask your doctor about alternative treatments with less hazardous side effects.
  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Ask your doctor to write detailed directions on how and when to take your medications.
  • Talk to your doctor about changes to your eating habits, as well as how much caffeine and alcohol you consume, as these can affect how your medicines work.
  • Ask your pharmacist about easier-to-read labels and instructions on your medicine containers if you have trouble reading warnings or directions.
  • Your pharmacist can help select the best over-the-counter medications that only have the ingredients you need for your symptoms.

Article: Write a Prescription to Prevent Falls

Write a Prescription to Prevent Falls

Vision

See your way to a steadier you!

Good vision is crucial to prevent falls, but it's no secret that, for many of us, our ability to see clearly in all situations can decline. That's why it's important to have an annual eye exam throughout your life and to use prescripition eyewear as directed.

  • Have an annual eye exam with pupil dilation performed by an eye care professional.
  • Where corrective lenses and use eye drops and other medications as prescribed.
  • Ask about alternatives to multi-focal lenses for when you are up and about. Glasses designed to help you read may make it difficult to see obstacles in your path while walking.
  • Ask your eye care professional for tips to get used to new prescription lenses.

Further, there are things you can do around your home that can help you see better:

  • Add light fixtures, lamps and night lights in dark areas of your home.
  • Use the highest-wattage bulbs recommended for your fixtures. Ask a lighting professional for advice on the best types of bulbs for your home.
  • Add contrasting colors on stairs and around bathroom fixtures to make them easier to see.
  • Wear a hat or sunglasses outdoors to control glare.

The decisions we make and the things we do every day can affect our likelihood of falling. Things that we once did easily may now require a little more thought and planning. By adopting a few new healthy habits - and dropping bad ones - you'll soon be making decisions that will keep you steady on your feet.

Stay Active and Healthy

8 Ways to Stay Active and Healthy and Prevent Falls

The eight most basic ways to stay active and healthy to prevent falls:

  1. Get 15 minutes of simple exercise each day.
  2. Join a balance and exercise program, like tai chi or "A Matter of Balance."
  3. Ask your health care provider for a falls risk assessment. Use our online assessment to start the conversation.
  4. Regularly review your medicines with your doctor or pharmacist.
  5. Get your vision and hearing checked annually.
  6. Slow down and think through the task you are performing. Be mindful of possible falls risks and act accordingly.
  7. Stay hydrated.
  8. Eat a balanced diet.

Break Bad Habits

Break Bad Habits to Prevent Falls

Preventing falls sometimes can be as simple as adopting new habits or breaking bad ones. Here are a few healthy habits that can help you lower your risk.

  • Move slowly when you get out of your bed or chair. Getting up suddenly can make you dizzy.
  • Stop at curbs and check the height before stepping up or down.
  • Watch the incline at curb cut-aways and ramps.
  • Keep at least one hand free for balance while walking, even if that means extra trips upstairs or to the car.
  • Don’t try to multi-task (such as use your cell phone or take off your coat, etc.) while walking or climbing stairs.
  • Wear shoes or slippers that fit well, wrap around the heel and have nonskid soles when at home. Do not walk around your home in socks, stockings or bare feet.
  • When you get out of a car, swing both legs out, place both feet on the ground and use your hands for support.

If you are going out alone, carry a cell phone. Know who you will call if you fall, and make sure that person knows what to do if you call.

Walking Cane Safety

Walking Cane Safety

Some older adults find that they could benefit from a little help to get around. A simple walking cane may be the answer. However, a cane that is used improperly or is not the right type for your needs could make things worse instead of better. Here's how to get the most out of a walking cane:

  • Have your cane properly fitted to your body.
  • The handle of the cane should come to the crease in your wrist while standing with arms at your sides.
  • Ask a mobility professional about the right cane for your activity level.
  • Do not borrow someone else's cane or walker.
  • Your cane and the foot on your weaker side should hit the ground at the same time.
  • Regularly check rubber feet and hand grips and replace if worn or cracked.

Safe on the Street, Safe on Your Feet

Be safe on your feet and safe on the street

Did you know that preventing falls can also help you be a better driver? Each year, nearly 12 million older adults experience a fall. Nationally, drivers who are 60 years of age or older are responsible for more than 400,000 automobile accidents annually.

A 2016 study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that older adults with a history of falling are at a 40 percent greater risk of being involved an auto accident than those who have never fallen. The report finds that a fall history can impact a person's driving capacity, making driving potentially unsafe for the driver and others.

This link between falls and auto accidents suggests that preventing a fall and addressing any health problems that may have contributed to a fall can make you a safer driver. Falls in older adults can cause injuries such as fractures and sprains that make driving difficult. These and similar conditions can lengthen your reaction time, limit your ability to see the environment around you and, perform steering maneuvers or brake. Falls can also be an indication of other health problems that can contribute to driving difficulties, including poor balance or vision issues.

To address these issues, recognize your limitations and take steps to reduce or minimize risk factors.

  • Exercise regularly to maintain the strength and flexibility to remain safely on your feet as well as behind the wheel.
  • Talk to your doctor about chronic pain and your options for controlling it.
  • Talk to your health care provider about any factors that keep you from getting a full night's sleep so you have the energy and alertness you need to stay safe.
  • Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist the medicines you take and how they may affect your driving skills as well as increase your risk for falling.
  • Have an annual eye exam and keep your eyeglasses prescription up-to-date. Discuss any problems you might have seeing clearly at night.
  • Have your hearing checked annually and talk to your provider about options to address hearing loss.
  • Ask about adult driver classes at your local senior center or driver training school.

Activities that sharpen physical skills and improve balance, strength and flexibility will not only lessen your falls risk, but may also improve your driving.

Learn more about older driver safety and transportation options...


It Takes Everyone

Most falls in older adults can be prevented. A person's risk for falls goes down the minute he or she stops being afraid of falling. Preventing falls for every older Ohioan will take a community approach. Everyone - from the individual and his family, to doctors and nurses, to business owners and managers, to community leaders and more - has a role to play in preventing falls. It's like the old saying goes, "United we stand, divided we fall." What's your role in preventing falls in Ohio?

A single fall can change a loved one's life... and possibly yours.A single fall can change someone's life significantly and make her more reliant on others for help. As a someone who cares for or about an older loved one, you have to find the balance between ensuring your loved one is safe, and respecting her right to make decisions for herself.

Many older adults are reluctant to talk about falling because they see it as a threat to their independence. Bring the topic up frequently with your loved one and be persistent, but respectful. If he says he doesn't want to talk about it, that's OK, but bring the topic up again, soon.

  • Assure him that falling is not a normal part of aging and that most falls can be prevented.
  • Use tools like the Falls Risk Self-assessment to help him see his health and environment in new ways.
  • Share stories of others you know who have fallen, even your own experiences; ask open-ended questions like: "What could she have done to prevent that fall?"

Don't let someone you care about become afraid of falling.

People who fall (or nearly fall) may develop a fear of falling and modify their behavior in ways that actually increase their risk of falling again, such as becoming less active and changing the way they walk. A Matter of Balance is a community-based workshop that can help your loved one (and you) learn to see falls as something that can be controlled.

Help your loved one remain physically active.

Any type of movement helps, from simply lifting your legs while you watch TV and marching in place in the kitchen, to walking and swimming, to exercise programs like yoga and tai chi.

  • Build on activities that she enjoys and talk with her about things she'd like to try.
  • Find out about local exercise programs for older adults by contacting your local senior center, community action agency or agency on aging.
  • Discuss any new or intensified exercise or activity with a doctor to ensure that the activity is safe and appropriate.
  • Ask her doctor about inner-ear conditions and medication side effects.
  • Make sure she has her vision checked regularly, that her glasses fit properly and that she wears them when she's active.
  • Offer to exercise with her.

More tips about exercise to prevent falls...

Don't ignore chronic pain.

Individuals with severe chronic pain are up to 77 percent more likely to fall than those without pain. Pain can cause your loved one to resist activity and exercise. Likewise, some pain medications can make him less stable on his feet.

Encourage appropriate use of assistive devices.

Walkers and canes can help with balance. Folding step stools with hand rails are a far safer alternative to reaching high places than chairs or other furniture. Other devices, such as tools for reaching and grabbing, can keep a loved one from over-extending and losing balance.

Regarding canes and walkers:

  • Be sure canes and walkers are the right size and properly adjusted for your loved one (i.e., with the handle at wrist height).
  • Regularly check the rubber tips on canes and walkers and replace them if they appear worn, dried out or damaged.
  • If your loved one uses a cane or walker while out and about, he should use them to get around the house as well.

More tips for walking cane safety...

Promote good nutrition and hydration.

A balanced diet with a variety of vegetables and calcium-rich foods promotes overall general health and minimizes the symptoms of some chronic illnesses. Staying properly hydrated prevents low blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue and confusion.

  • Offer a variety of beverage choices, such as different flavorings and various temperatures.
  • Encourage your loved one to eat fruits and vegetables that help with hydration, such as watermelon and applesauce.
  • Encourage frequent trips to the bathroom or suggest a regular schedule to prevent her from having to go in a hurry.
  • Talk with her and her doctor about medical conditions and medications that can cause dehydration or frequent urination.

More tips about nutrition to prevent falls...

Health care and other service providers are uniquely positioned to help prevent falls.Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma in older Ohioans. Health care and other service providers, like doctors, nurses, physical therapist, pharmacists, EMTs, home health aides, senior center staff and others, are uniquely positioned to actively assess their consumers' risk and teach them prevention strategies.

  • Older adults account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries. While Ohioans age 65 and older make up approximately 16 percent of our population, they account for more than 85 percent of fatal falls.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. Falls account for more than 90 percent of all accidental hip fractures.
  • Fall-related emergency room-visit and inpatient hospitalization rates are higher for falls than all other injuries combined.
  • The risk of falling increases significantly after age 75.

After an ER visit for a fall, about 7 in 10 older adults talked to their doctors about the fall. Fewer sought and used help to prevent future falls.

Further, researchers at the Boston University Medical Center recently found that only seven out of ten (71 percent) older adults who had visited an emergency room because of a fall talked to their regular health care provider about the fall that sent them to the ER. Fewer than half (46 percent) asked family for help to prevent future falls. About a third (37 percent) asked their health care provider or friends for help to prevent falls. Most concerning, only two percent sough out a falls prevention program and fewer than one percent actually participated in such a program.

STEADI Toolkit for Medical Professionals

In clinical settings, an effective falls intervention involves assessing and addressing an individual's fall risk factors. The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition encourage all Ohio health care providers to adopt the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) toolkit.

STEADI is a suite of materials created for health care providers to help assess, treat and refer older patients based on their falls risk. STEADI can help you:

  • Make fall prevention part of your practice;
  • Get background information about falls;
  • Read case studies featuring patients at risk of falling;
  • Use validated tests to assess your patients' falls risk factors;
  • Offer your patients a medical referral;
  • Offer your patients encouragement, resources and referrals; and
  • Earn reimbursements for fall screenings and fall prevention reimbursable services.

In-Home Service Providers

  • Identify consumers who use a walker or other assistive device and plan time that is sufficient to provide the services they need.
  • Monitor homes for falls hazards (cords, rugs, poor lighting, etc.) and educate consumers about what they can do to reduce their risk of falling.
  • Have and call alternate phone contacts for all consumers in case a consumer does not answer the door on a scheduled care day.
  • Train staff to recognize consumers who regularly wear safety alert devices or use walkers, canes or wheelchairs. Empower staff to start a conversation with these consumers if they see them not using their assistive devices.
  • Be aware of extreme consumer weight loss or gain. Improper nutrition may lead to muscle weakness and dizziness, which could result in a fall.
  • Have a nurse monitor consumers' prescriptions and check to see they are taking their medications as directed. Problems with medications should be communicated to their case manager and physician.
  • Identify and report to case managers any needs for home modifications or assistive devices that could reduce falls, and include them in the consumer's care plan.
  • Encourage consumers to ask their doctors about a falls risk assessment and for help identifying appropriate physical activity, especially if they have fallen or have a fear of falling. Use the falls risk self-assessment to help get the conversation started.
  • Ensure that consumers who wear glasses or hearing aides are wearing them and that they fit properly.
  • If appropriate, assist the consumer with clearing their driveway and sidewalk or provide them with resources.
  • If a consumer has a history of falling, document his or her activities and look for patterns.
  • Include a falls risk assessment in the initial and on-going assessments of each consumer.
  • Create a falls prevention policy for your agency and ensure that staff are aware of and understand it.
  • Have at least one staff member trained in home hazard risk assessment (check with your local health district for training opportunities).

Senior Centers

  • Offer a variety of exercise classes that help to improve strength and balance.
  • Allow members to watch exercises classes before signing up so they can assess their ability to safely participate.
  • Add a routine fall risk assessment activity into your calendar of events. Encourage members to take the online self-assessment.
  • Keep hallway areas clear so no one is discouraged from using their wheelchair, cane or walker.
  • Have railings on both sides of staircases.
  • Monitor parking lots and building entrances regularly for slipping and tripping hazards.
  • If your center is a congregate meal site, offer to help members by carrying their meal tray to their table and clearing it when they are finished.
  • Provide plenty of space between tables in dining and activity rooms.
  • Install grab bars in restrooms.
  • Provide seating areas throughout the building so that members have an opportunity to rest between activities.
  • Educate staff about falls risks so they can identify and remove slipping and tripping hazards. Use our Slips, Trips and Falls Hazard Checklist.
  • Create a policy for falls prevention and ensure staff are aware of and understand it. View a sample policy.
  • Empower your members to notify you of slipping, tripping, and falls hazards by placing suggestion boxes in your facility. Download and print sample "Fall-Free Zone" signs.
  • Notify your local media if you have a weather-related closing so that members do not travel in poor conditions.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, slips, trips and falls are the leading cause for worker injury. When staff or customers fall in your business, it doesn't just hurt them; it also hurts your reputation and your bottom line.

Most falls in businesses can be prevented, and prevention can be done largely through staff and customer education and motivation. The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Golden Buckeye program have partnered with STEADY U Ohio to provide tips and resources to retailers to make their businesses "fall-free zones."

Make Your Business A Falls-Free Zone

Make Your Business A Fall-Free Zone.

  • Create a falls prevention policy for your business and make sure your employees know and understand it.
  • Use the Slips, Trips and Falls Hazard Checklist to identify issues with flooring, stairs, lighting and housekeeping that could cause accidents.
  • Post signs at your entrance and around the business advising customers to notify staff of slipping or tripping hazards.
  • Ensure that walkways are clean and clear of cords and obstructions. If you must use rugs or mats, ensure that they remain flat and that they do not move under foot.
  • Ensure that people can move freely around displays in the aisles without adjusting their gait. Avoid displays at the end of aisles that obscure a customer's view of other customers and obstacles.
  • Have staff regularly monitor aisles for items that have fallen off shelves and are blocking. Quickly clean up all spills (dry materials can be just as slippery as wet). Provide supplies (i.e., towels, "wet floor" signs, trash cans) in convenient locations around your business.
  • Keep outdoor walkways and entryways free of ice and snow. Regularly clean up water and salt that is tracked inside. Encourage customers to wipe their feet and use umbrella bags.
  • Ensure that holiday decorations and displays do not protrude into walkways or cause "traffic jams." Assure that lighting levels are not too low or too high.
  • Provide seating around your business, particularly in areas where customers may have to wait during busy times (e.g., near checkout lines, the service desk, the pharmacy, restrooms and exits).
  • When it's snowy or icy, extend sales or offer shopping options for older customers (e.g., delivery or rain checks by phone) so they don't have to risk falling to get a good deal.
  • Educate staff on proper lifting and carrying techniques and equipment, and instruct them to help customers carry large or bulky objects and bags.
  • If someone falls, document the incident and examine the cause so that you can prevent future accidents. Use our incident report template to get started.
  • Empower staff to offer assistance to customers who appear to be having trouble getting around. Download and share our tip sheet on how to assist an older adult who appears to need help.

STEADY U Ohio Falls Risk Self-Assessment

 

Learn to Prevent Falls

A Matter of Balance Tai Chi

The STEADY U initiative coordinates two opportunities in Ohio's communities to learn how to prevent falls. "A Matter of Balance" connects you to others to learn together about proven strategies to remove falls hazards and reduce your fear of falling. In addition, tai chi instructors in your community can help you learn the ancient martial art proven to increase balance and strength.

Well Beyond 60! Health & Wellness Calendar

Volunteer as a health and wellness program leader.

Contact us for more information.

 

 

Get Your Organization Involved!

Become a STEADY U partner

 

10th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day