Take Steps to Prevent Falls

By John C. Kagan, M.D.

Take Steps to Prevent FallsFalls can happen to anyone at any age, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls occur more often in senior adults and are the leading cause of injury deaths in persons over 65 years of age. In addition, patients with orthopedic issues are at an increased risk for falls. Fortunately, by making minor lifestyle changes or taking steps to improve safety in your home, falls can be prevented.

September is falls prevention month, and the CDC recommends taking the following steps to reduce the risk of falls:

Your Home Checklist:
. Move furniture so hallways and pathways are clear
. Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape or non-stick pads under rugs
. Eliminate clutter in walkways such as cords, wires, shoes, clothes, books, etc.
. Fix loose or uneven steps, tile or carpeting
. Keep items you regularly use within reach and stored safely in cabinets and drawers
. Place a lamp in close reach to the bed
. Have grab bars installed in showers, bathtubs, next to toilets and in hallways
. Use non-slip mats in bathtubs and shower floors
. Have handrails and lights installed on staircases
. Improve lighting
. Add nightlights in bathrooms and hallways
. Wear shoes both inside and outside the house; Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers
. Keep emergency numbers near each phone
. Put a phone near the floor in case you can’t get up
. Consider an alarm device that will trigger for  help in the event you fall and can’t get up
. Get up slowly after you sit or lie down

Your Health Care Checklist:
. Schedule an appointment annually to have your vision and eyeglasses checked
. Encourage participation in regular exercise to maintain balance, muscle tone, strength and coordination
. Have your health care provider and pharmacist review medications as some can make you dizzy or sleepy

If you should fall, do not panic. Assess the situation to determine if you are hurt. Slide or crawl to the nearest couch or chair to try to get up. If you cannot get up, call for help. If you are alone, crawl slowly to the nearest telephone to call 911 or relatives for help.
Orthopedic surgeons are doctors who specialize in treating musculoskeletal injuries that affect the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints and cartilage. Dr. John Kagan has more than 30 years of experience treating patients of all ages with orthopedic-related conditions. Learn more about his expertise at www.kaganortho.com or call 239-936-6778.

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