Living Well: Fall prevention and you
Take steps to increase safety
Jackie Bushey RN Case Manager
Ministry Medical Group-Family Practice, Rhinelander
Falls and injury from falls are much more common than you would think. They can be the cause or the result of serious health problems. Our patients, their families, caregivers and healthcare workers all play a role in preventing injuries related to falls.
In the clinic we screen our patients yearly by using an evidenced based assessment tool. But this is not the only way we identify those that are at a higher risk. History has shown us that there are multiple risk factors for falling, some more obvious than others.
-impaired balance, difficulty walking
-decreased muscle strength and increased weakness
-more than four medications, recent changes in medication, incorrectly taking medications
-memory or cognitive issues
-unsafe living arrangements
There are several things you and your caregivers can do to prevent fall and promote safety.
Exercise: Developing an exercise routine can improve muscle tone, de-stress and improve your chances of avoiding a fall. Tai Chi can be a great way to develop strength and help with improving balance, and classes are offered through the YMCA. Take a look at the Nicolet Resource Guide for Retirees. There are multiple programs offered in our area. Silver Sneakers at the YMCA, The Fall Prevention Program through The Wisconsin Department of Health is offered in the area and a great resource to connect with is ADRC of the Northwood’s to find local offerings.
Medications: Safe prescribing and safe administration takes work sometimes and is truly a partnership between you and your healthcare providers. Be open and let your healthcare staff know if you are not sure what a medication is for or when you should take it. Bring all of your medications and medication lists to the doctor’s office so we can double check that everything is accurate. One of the most important things you can do is bring in “all” of your medication lists from all of your specialty providers so we can make sure that everything is updated and in sync.
Vision: Visual imperfections are a way of life for most of us. Keeping up with yearly eye exams are so important. Cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye concerns can be diagnosed and treated, lessening the chance of falls. Do you wear multifocal lenses? Be mindful that looking down can cause you to be dizzy, miss the curb, step or dog and increase your risk for falling.
Environment: Home safety is key in preventing falls. Go through the home safety checklist on the website listed below. Ask your kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors to help. It will help you to have someone give a second look and it may inspire them to identify safety risks in other homes. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/pubs/English/booklet_Eng_desktop-a.pdf
The following is also found on the CDC website and is a great resource to assess your risk for falls.
(This can go as heading on the graph that I emailed to Sue)
Other Safety Tips:
Take your time when changing positions. Going too fast can sometimes make your blood pressure drop and cause you to be dizzy.
Make sure your cane or walker is in good working condition.
Wear the right shoes at the right time. Don’t be like me and wonder why you fell on the way to the mailbox while wearing flip-flops in January.
Add grab bars and railings in the bathroom and anywhere else they would be useful.
Ensure there is adequate lighting in and around your home.
Have conversations with your healthcare providers if you worry about falling or if you feel dizzy or lightheaded throughout the day.
Consider a medical alert system. We have all heard of LifeLine but did you know some cellular networks often offer an alert bracelet or necklace that can be used outside of the home?
Some good numbers to keep close
ADRC of the Northwoods, 800.699.6704
Oneida County Department of Aging, 800.374.7499
Vilas County Commission on Aging, 800.374.7499
YMCA Rhinelander, 715.362.9622
For more information about healthcare services offered in Rhinelander, please visit ministryhealth.org.