Submitted by: Ernest Burton, CVI’s Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Editor’s Note: This week is National Fall Prevention Week. Many times when people have accidents or falls in their homes it is not due to weakness or frailty but more so to vision loss. At CVI we teach our clients techniques and strategies on how to be safe in their home. One of our instructors, Ernest Burton, gives some helpful but humorous tips below on how to stay on your feet and prevent falls.
Here are a few safety tips I found from the Center for Disease Control, the Mayo Clinic, and the National Safety Council on fall prevention; but with my own added humor. Always remember that safety is serious and a very important factor of independence.
- An important factor in preventing falls is improving and maintaining good physical and mental health in addition to eating a well-balanced diet. Consult with your health care providers before starting or changing exercise programs and changing your nutritional intake. So maybe eat and run like a rabbit.
- Some medications taken can lead to falls especially if they cause dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, etc. We are talking about the legal drugs and not that wacky tobacco or the sticky icky. Consult with your health care providers to discuss drug interactions and their side effects.
- Consider changing your footwear since high heels, slippers, flip flops, clogs, slick soles and walking around with only socks or stockings could lead to slipping and falling. That stiletto may look cute and add six inches to your height, but bunions and hammer toe both do not look good and is painful. Instead wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles and a more sensible heel.
- Arrange furniture in a way that allows plenty of space to walk freely without bumping into it. Ask yourself do you really use that coffee table or is it just decoration collecting dust? It could be one less thing you have to clean plus it hurts when you hit your shin on it. Maybe you could just paint it and give it as a gift to that cousin who is getting married again and again.
- Remove anything that could cause stumbling or slipping when walking on stairs, in hallways, pathways or doorways. Ask yourself does that rug really catch the dirt from outdoors or does it more often catch your foot causing you to stumble? This rug could be one less item to clean. Besides the irremovable stains now look like paisley patterns.
- Install handrails on at least one side of the stairway or both sides if you can. I have almost fallen down the stairs, but was holding onto the handrail which prevented me from tumbling down. Let’s just say that we should not run down stairs right quick even if we said “I’m going to run downstairs right quick.” Don’t do it.
- Rearrange items that are in cabinets or on higher shelves so that you have easier access to them. So maybe you shouldn’t put your adult book collection on the highest shelf all the way in the back of the cabinet when you need a ladder to get access to them. Let’s be realistic, you live alone and you read them every night so why not just place them next to your bed.
- If necessary, use a mobility device such as a white cane in order to detect obstacles within your path of travel. To learn to use a white cane properly contact CVI for mobility training classes.
If you did not laugh that’s ok since safety is a serious matter, however maybe you might consider organizing your home in a safer manner so that you become or remain independent while living there. Did you find my safety tips helpful? What things can you do at home to prevent a fall? Share your comments and let’s talk about fall prevention this week.