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What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

Keeping you SAFE while you’re here

Falls are more likely to occur when you’re in an unfamiliar setting, when you’re not feeling well, when you’re on medication or when you’re feeling stressed. So while you are in our care, we will take special precautions to help assure your safety.

A member of your care team will perform an assessment to determine your fall risk and review with you the ways we can work together to prevent you from falling. As your condition changes (following a medical procedure, for example), you will be re-evaluated.

If you do not receive an assessment, please tell a member of your care team, and we will arrange one for you. Your safety is important to us!

 

Staying safe when you leave

We encourage you to share these fall prevention tips with your family members or caregivers, so they can help you prepare for your release from the hospital.

Before you go

  • Discuss your fall prevention needs with your doctor, family members and caregivers.
  • Find out what types of physical activity are appropriate during your recovery.
  • Ask your doctor whether you’ll need physical therapy, a walker, cane or other assistive device.
  • Inform family members and caregivers of your medications and dosages.
  • Have obstructions cleared from pathways in and around your home.
  • Enlist help in security handrails and removing fall hazards (such as electrical cords, raised doorway thresholds, etc.)
  • Remove throw rugs or secure them with sturdy, two-sided carpet tape or non-skid pads.
  • Make arrangements to assure accessible accommodations (if you have a second-floor bedroom, for example, you may wish to have your bed moved to the first floor).
  • Equip the bathroom with grab bars and stools, if needed.
  • Assure adequate and accessible lighting, especially in stairwells.
  • Remove or nail down carpet on stairs.

When you arrive

  • Have someone help you at home throughout your recovery.
  • Maintain a clear path between your bed and the bathroom.
  • Drink water to prevent dehydration, which can cause dizziness.
  • Wear footwear that surrounds the foot and has a non-skid sole.
  • Keep eyeglasses within easy reach at all times.
  • Carry a cordless phone with you to call for help, if needed.
  • Use nightlights throughout your home.
  • Prevent small pets from getting underfoot.
  • Keep commonly used kitchen items within easy reach.
  • Ask for help or use a laundry service if facilities are in a hard-to-reach area, such as the basement.

What Causes Falls?

Illness


Any illness that causes fatigue, muscle weakness or dizziness increases fall risk. Diabetes, heart disease, circulatory and inner ear problems are common culprits.

Medications


Medications may make you feel dizzy, drowsy, lightheaded or confused, increasing fall risk.

Bedrest


Bedrest can cause muscles to shrink and weaken, and may create a lightheaded sensation upon rising from the bed.

Unfamiliar Surroundings


You are more likely to fall in settings where the floor plan, lights, sounds and activities are unfamiliar to you.

Stress


In stressful situations (like a stay in a medical facility), you may feel more tired than usual, and not as careful or alert.

Dehydration


Dehydration may cause dizziness, so use caution if you are fasting for a medical test or procedure.

Physical Limitations


Decreased vision, slower reflexes, stiff joints and weakened bones may increase fall risk.

Footwear


Walking in socks, nylons and open-heeled slippers or shoes should be avoided. Choose low-heeled, closed-back footwear with non-skid soles.

Environmental Hazards


Stairs, throw rugs, electrical cords and other obstacles are common causes of falls.

 

When Extra Care is Needed

In certain circumstances, your care team may recommend the use of assistive devices to keep you from falling. A seatbelt, for example, can keep you from slipping down or toppling out of a wheelchair. Please understand that this is only a precaution to help assure your safety. Let your care team know if any device is too tight or causes numbness, coldness or chaffing.

 

Adapted from AHI of Indiana