Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

4 Things You can do to Reduce Your Fall Risk Today!

July 26, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS Season 2 Episode 21
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
4 Things You can do to Reduce Your Fall Risk Today!
Show Notes Transcript

There are many ways that we can reduce our fall risk. However, There are 4 main categories that need to be addressed if we are going to take a holistic approach to preventing falls.
They are: 
1. Having your medications reviewed by a health care provider at least once a year or any time after a hospitalization.

2. Having your eyes and feet checked at least once a year by a healthcare provider.

3. Improve your balance and strength by exercising regularly (3-5 per week)

4. Make your home safer.

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[00:00:00] Janet: Hello, everyone. I'm happy to be here with you today. I wanted to say that I have been traveling a lot lately. My husband and I, and my son, we went to Colorado to visit our friends and family. And so I haven't been able to record a podcast in about two. But I am happy to be recording this one today.

[00:00:25] Janet: I don't have a guest. I am going to lead the podcast and talk about fall prevention, which is a very important issue for anyone, but especially for older. so first I wanted to share a few facts with the audience. So the single most important thing that we can do as we age is to avoid a fall. Every second of every day, an older adult age, 65 and older suffers a fall in the [00:01:00] U.S. Making falls, the leading cause of injury and death in this age group.

[00:01:06] Janet: So in fact adults that fall are more likely to have an injury that will cause some kind of long term issue. For example, if you have a hip fracture and you have to have a hip replacement then someone who is able to. Maintain a he healthy lifestyle by exercise and eating well. And thankfully there is a lot that we can do to help prevent a fall.

[00:01:06] Janet: So falls are not a normal part of aging, and there are four main things that we can do to help prevent falls. Number one, have your healthcare provider review your medication. So, this is very important because we may be taking medications that will contradict each other. So they'll, they will behave in negative ways when they're taken together.

[00:01:36] Janet: Okay. And if we end up in the hospital and usually new medications are prescribed while we are in the hospital, then when we come out, we may be taking medications that we no longer need. So it's very important to have a healthcare provider at least once a year, look at your [00:02:00] medications and make sure.

[00:02:01] Janet: everything that you're taking, you actually need to be taking, and that it's being taken correctly. For example, if a medication should be taken with food, that's what you're doing, or if it should be taken on an empty stomach, that's also what you're doing. Because one of the leading causes why people end up in the hospital is taking medications incorrectly and.

[00:02:29] Janet: by not taking your medications as prescribed. For example, if you're supposed to be taking them on a daily basis, that may be reason for your whole body to just be reactive to the fact that the medication isn't being taken correctly  and with a serious condition. So number two, I wanna talk about exercise.

[00:02:53] Janet: So exercise is going to help us improve our balance and our strength, which [00:03:00] is important at any age, but it is especially important as we get older because changes are happening in our body that will increase our risk for falls. For example. We have special cells in our hands and our feet that tell our brain where we are in space.

[00:03:21] Janet: Well, as we get older, we don't have as many of those cells. And so our risk falls increases. Also, as we get older, we start losing muscle mass, which really happens. in our twenties, but it especially is accelerated after age 60. So we have to work really hard to maintain the muscle mass that we already have.

[00:03:51] Janet: So that's why exercise is very important. It's going to help us reduce our fall. [00:04:00] If you have an instance where your balance is challenged. If you exercise regularly, you're going to be able to right your body so that you don't end up falling. Now, exercise also helps us improve our mood. So a chemical process happens in our brain when we exercise and that will help.

[00:04:26] Janet: Feel better and it will also exercise our body so that at night we feel more tired and we're able to sleep better. So it just helps us regulate our body helps us feel good. Helps us keep a healthy mental state, which. As I said very important at any age, but especially important as we get older.

[00:04:55] Janet: So really exercise is one of the most important levers that we can [00:05:00] pull in order to be healthy and stay healthy in every sense of the word. So number three, have your eyes and your feet checked. So the reason why I say this is because as we age our vision changes, it really starts to change around age 40 where we develop a condition that's called Presbyopia, which is the inability for our lens to focus as well as it did when we were younger.

[00:05:34] Janet: Now, other conditions also crop up. As we age, one of them is macular degeneration, which is a loss of central vision. And then there's also glaucoma, which is a loss of peripheral vision, which is a high pressure in the eye. So these conditions, they have to be diagnosed [00:06:00] by a physician and there are current treatments that will help slow the process.

[00:06:05] Janet: So having your feet checked, this is very important because as I mentioned earlier, we have cells in our hands and our feet that tell our body where we are in space. Well neuropathy, which is a condition where the nerve endings aren't giving the correct information to the. that happens. It could happen as we age.

[00:06:31] Janet: It's especially common in people with diabetes. And when you have this condition, for example, if you're walking barefooted and you step on something sharp or you burn your skin, you may not be aware that you have this injury. And if you're a diabetic. Makes you especially vulnerable to developing a non-healing wound.

[00:06:59] Janet: [00:07:00] So that's why having our feet checked and our sensation checked is very important for keeping healthy limbs, especially your feet and your legs. now last but not least is making your home safer, which as all of you know is my favorite subject. So when it comes to the home, there are lots of things that we can do to make our home safer.

[00:07:29] Janet: For example, increasing the lighting that we have in our house. And when I talk about lighting, I'm talking about day lighting. I'm also talking about artificial lighting. So one thing that 

[00:07:42] Janet: saw often when I went into a patient's home is that they had their blinds closed and they weren't allowing natural light to come in.

[00:07:51] Janet: So that's a big no-no. We should take advantage of natural light as much as possible. Number one, it's [00:08:00] free. Number two, it's good for our mental. and number three, it provides us with the best lighting to be able to see in. So we wanna be taking advantage of natural light as much as we can. And if we can put skylights in our home, then that's an even better way to get in more natural light now and also get in fresh.

[00:08:28] Janet: because the skylights will have features where you can 

open 

[00:08:33] Janet: them. And so you're able to circulate air better, which is also very important for our health. Now with artificial lighting, you wanna make sure that you have enough lighting at the stairs that you have enough lighting in the hallways.

[00:08:48] Janet: That's an area where is commonly void of light. and we want to make sure that we have good task lighting in the bathroom and in [00:09:00] the kitchen, because those two areas are really, they are work areas where we perform many important tasks. And so you want to be able to see well so that you can do everything efficiently and safely.

[00:09:16] Janet: So other things that we can do is. We can put up, grab bars in our bathroom, and I'm not talking about those ugly silver grab bars. You can put very beautiful stylish grab bars that will enhance the aesthetic look of your bathroom and will also make your bathroom safer and will help you perform activities of daily living like bathing and functional transfer.

[00:09:48] Janet: Much easier. Other things that we can do is we can smooth out transitions in the house. So make sure that you don't have [00:10:00] transitions that are more than half an inch be. So that your risk for falls is decreased. Also if you're using a Walker or a wheelchair or even a cane to travel through your home, that's another reason why you want smooth transitions throughout the house.

[00:10:20] Janet: So another thing we can do is create at least one zero step entry to your home. So if you have an incident where you fall and you end up having to use adaptive equipment or your balance is challenged. you want to be able to get in and outta your house, even if you have to use equipment or you have to have the help of another person to be able to access your home and get out of your home.

[00:10:53] Janet: So another area that is commonly ignored in the home is the outside. [00:11:00] So we wanna be able to access the outside of our home. For example, I love to be able to garden and sit outside. So we want pavers that are smooth. We want transition areas that are safe. We wanna create lighting in the outside so that when we are outside, it's safe for us to maneuver around.

[00:11:26] Janet: So. There are also other things that we can do. For example, if we're performing renovations in our house, we want to choose finishes that are going to be non-slip and that are gonna have a matte finish because we don't want glare to impact how we function in that space. We also want to be able to see.

[00:11:54] Janet: So we want to create color contrast between [00:12:00] the wall and the flooring, or for example, a counter and the flooring so that we can function as safely and efficiently as we can in that space. So these are just a few points that I wanted to make. That will make your home safer and that will reduce your risk for falls in general.

[00:12:27] Janet: So a recap is have your medications reviewed by a healthcare provider at least once a year, have your eyes in your feet checked once a year, and you also want to exercise regularly and perform. Exercises that work on flexibility, such as Pilates or Tai Chi yoga, you can perform exercises in a chair and [00:13:00] they will just do wonders for your strength, your balance, your cognitive health.

[00:13:06] Janet: So it's all about being proactive, keeping a healthy weight. Exercising regularly. And that is how we are going to really impact our health and live lives that are quality based and will help you just be happy and be able to enjoy your friends and family. Thank you for being with me today. And if you have any topics that you would like me to talk about, please email me at info@agingmatters.health. And I hope that you keep having a great summer.