Blog PostsNov 9, 2019

Preventing Falls in Fall

Written by Monica Still, RN, BSN

Originally published in the University of Pittsburgh Adult Spina Bifida Clinic Fall 2019 Newsletter

It’s autumn. The weather turns colder, the nights get longer, and our thoughts turn towards the coming Winter months. And then there’s me. I don’t just think of Fall; I think about falls. I worry that this might be the year that I take a tumble that ends up putting me in the hospital and rehab. The good news is that there are precautions that all of us can take to prevent falls. Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Make sure your indoor pathways aren’t cluttered and that all rugs are securely in place on the floor. It’s very easy to slide on a throw rug placed on a hardwood floor or trip over one on a carpet.
  • Make sure your sidewalks are clear of ice, snow and even wet leaves. Having enough light illuminating your path is another great way to help prevent falling.
  • Use the handrails on stairways (indoors and out), or a grab rail near a single step.
  • Use a cane or walker if your doctor has recommended it.
  • If you take medicines that make you sleepy or dizzy, try timing your medicine for a time when you don’t have to be up and moving around. Don’t wait until the last second to use the bathroom.
  • Handheld showers, shower chairs, tub transfer benches, non-skid bath mats, and handrails are all great ways to keep yourself safe while taking care of your needs.

Fall prevention is not just for people who walk. Wheelchair users are also at risk for falls. If you are a wheelchair user, you should not assume that the person helping you with your transfer has locked your wheelchair brakes. Some other ways to prevent falls from your wheelchair include avoiding leaning forward and tipping yourself out of the wheelchair, moving footrests out of the way to avoid tripping on them during transfers, not overreaching for an object, and avoiding being too far forward on the seat. If you use a power wheelchair, make sure that it is turned off before transferring. Be sure to keep the cord out of your way when charging it.

Unfortunately, even with taking every precaution, it is possible to still fall. Having a medical alert device is a good way to get help if the worst happens. There are many different types of devices and some state programs or insurance may pay for the cost. If you don’t have a medical alert device, try to keep your cell phone with you. If you fall, try to keep calm and seek medical help if needed. I hope these tips help you have a safe Fall without any falls.