Stand Tall…Don’t Fall

By: Hannah Harkins, PTA/DOR

Think back to an embarrassing moment in your life….Did you fall carrying your lunch tray in school, or trip walking across the stage during that high school play?  Heck,I once fell down my basement stairs carrying my Christmas tree.

The fact is:  Falls happen… but in most cases, they can be prevented.

Physical Factors

Even though there are several factors that can increase your risk for falls, let’s start with the physical factors first:

  • Basic balance problems due to decreased strength &poor ankle stability/strategies
  • Poor vision
  • Hearing issues
  • Low blood pressure
  • Certain medications

Strategies for the above physical risk factors including medication effects should be discussed with your physician.

Behavioral Factors

Who is NOT in a hurry in today’s time? We hurry, hurry, hurry to everywhere and everything we do, to answer the phone, the door, even to the restroom. We all need to slow down a bit and get our footing before for taking that next step. Hurrying or rushing is a major behavioral factor to falls, here are a few more to consider:

  • NOT using assistive devices when needed or suggested by loved ones, physician, or therapist.
  • Pride in NOT asking for help. I can do this myself attitude.
    • Remember my Christmas tree fall? The rest of the story is… that my husband had said that Saturday morning, “As soon as I get home from work I will help you take the tree to the basement.” Did I wait…oh no I thought “I GOT THIS” and half hour later I was in the ER getting x-rays of my ankle.

Ask and wait for help, slow down, and use assistive devices when available.

Environmental factor

Your environment can be a dangerous place.  If unrecognized, it can cause a fall.  It’s not a matter of ‘If’ but ‘When’.  Here are some things to consider:

  • The pretty rug on the tile or hardwood floor or by the entry/exit locations to our home.
  • Poor lighting (which we use for comfort and ambience many times) can disguise items on the floor, slippery areas, or imperfections with the floor.
  • Improper footwear(inside OR outside your house). Always wear the right shoes for walking through a wet yard, tromping through a muddy feed lot,or just quickly running to the garage.

Again, slow down in your environments!

Take Charge & Apply These Lessons

Consider today applying the steps we have outlined to help prevent falls.  There are many physical, behavioral,and environmental factors that are unique to everyone’s situation.  Reach out to your physician.  They are a great resource and would love to educate you on ways to prevent falls.  In addition, feel free to call for a free screen from Genesis Rehab Services to assess your risk for falls.

Please join me in applying these lessons today:

  • Reach out to your healthcare providers for information about potential physical factors which may contribute to falls.
  • Slow down, enjoy the scenery, and be mindful of your pace.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends
  • Don’t forget to use your assistive devices.
  • Keep a watchful eye of your environment, floor area, and footwear.

Special thanks from Advanced Senior Care to our guest blogger; Hannah Harkins, PTA,& Director of Rehab (Good Shepherd Nursing Home | Kidwell Home) for providing “Just Better Care” in her daily efforts and for her personal words of wisdom about Fall Prevention Awareness and personal applications.  Greatly appreciated, Hannah!

Genesis Rehab Services, 1101 West Clay Rd., Versailles MO 65084

Tel: 573-539-3467             Fax: 573-539-3066