How to Prevent Falls: In the Hospital and at Home

Preventing Falls

By Kim Neiman, RN, MPH, Director Infection Control and Prevention, Renown Health

Is there anyone out there who wants to fall?  I doubt it.  I’m not sure we think about falling or not falling until it happens,  and then it’s too late.  Unfortunately, once you fall you’re at greater risk of falling again.

So what can we do to prevent a fall?  Each year, one in three people over the age of 60 experience a fall.  The good news is that many of these falls can be prevented.  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists four things we can do to help prevent falls.

  1. Get your eyes checked every year.  Whether or not you wear glasses, you should have your vision checked regularly.  And with glasses, you should have it checked every year.  If the glasses you’re wearing aren’t keeping up with the changes in your vision, you’re at increased risk of a miss-step and fall.
  2. Balance.  If you need to use a walker or cane, then be sure to use it always.  And if you still need assistance to get around ask for help rather than risk a fall.  Wear flat (not fluffy or bouncy) shoes and slippers so you can “feel” the floor.  Simple exercises like Tai chi will also help to improve your balance.  Wearing socks with the “grabber” bottoms will help you feel more secure and less likely to slip when you’re walking.
  3. Medications.  Many medications have side effects such as dizziness or unsteadiness.  Sometimes it’s the interaction of one medication with another that causes this.  Always let your healthcare provider know all medications you’re taking – including over-the-counter medications as well as herbs and holistic supplements. Keep your list current, and be sure to delete any medication you’re no longer taking.
  4. Safety in your home.  Loose railings, throw rugs, poor lighting, electrical cords snaking across the floor – all of these have the potential to trip you up and increase your risk of falling.  Lower your risk by minimizing these items.

If you should become a patient, listen carefully to instructions, ask questions and take advantage of the items that are offered to increase your safety and decrease your risk of fall while you’re in the hospital.  Your safety is our number-one concern.