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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 doctor 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 doctor about medicines you may be taking that can make you dizzy. Ask your doctor 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 doctor about seeing a physical therapist. The therapist can show you how to build your strength to make getting up easier.

Squats will help strengthen your hips, thighs, and buttocks. Check with your doctor before you do these exercises.

  1. In front of a sturdy, armless chair, stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your arms out so they are parallel to the ground, and lean forward a little at the hips.
  3. Making sure that your knees NEVER bend forward past your toes, lower yourself in a slow, controlled motion, to a count of 4, until you reach a position that is almost a sitting position.
  4. Pause and hold this position.
  5. Then, to a count of 2, slowly rise back up to a standing position. Keep your knees over your ankles and your back straight.
  6. Repeat 10 times for one set. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Then complete a second set of 10 repetitions.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have fallen, or if you almost fall.


Review Date: 11/22/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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