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June 28, 2023

Care Partner Series: 7 Ways to Prevent Falls in Your Home

by Guest Author

At the Pacific Brain Health Center, our experts work with patients to address key factors associated with balance disorders and fall risk. Discover techniques for preventing falls and safely assisting loved ones with limited mobility. This is a segment of our “How To” series designed for our families, with a special emphasis on care partners.

Care partner and loved one working together to prevent falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) regardless of age demographic.

In fact, falls are one of the leading causes of injury and hospitalization among older adults. In the United States alone, more than 25% of Americans (1 in 4) over the age of 65 suffer a fall annually. Of these falls, 20% (1 in 5) result in a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head trauma.

By learning key techniques to prevent falls, you can help protect you and your loved ones from injury.

What is fall prevention?

Fall prevention, or the actions taken to reduce the risk of falling, can help to prevent serious injury. At home, practice these seven key fall prevention measures:

7 Ways to Prevent Falls in Your Home:

  • Ensure that each room is well-lit before entering it.
  • Use a night light in your hallways and bathroom.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Use handrails on the stairs.
  • Place non-slip mats in the shower
  • Install a seated bench in the shower.
  • Removing tripping hazards (loose rugs, pet dishes, clothes on the ground, shoes or slippers, electrical cords, and throw rugs).

William Buxton, MD, Director of Neuromuscular & Neurodiagnostic Medicine, and Fall Prevention at the Pacific Brain Health Center, elaborates:

Make sure that your environment is safe and fall-proof. These factors include keeping rooms well-lit during the day and using nightlights at night, keeping floors clear of clutter or throw rugs, and installing bathroom safety items such as rails and slip-proof shower chairs. Make sure shoes fit well and aren’t slippery. Regular eye exams are also helpful.

Dr. Buxton

Prevent falls with exercise

In addition to ensuring low-fall risk at home, incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is key for fall prevention. Regular exercise helps to improve balance and coordination, making falls less likely to occur.

Two senior women lifting small pink weights outside to increase strength and prevent falls

Strength and resistance training build mass and improve balance, while yoga and tai chi help to improve flexibility and balance. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, are also great options for improving cardiovascular health.

Physical therapy is another alternative to improve balance and prevent falls. “Physical therapy addressing balance and strengthening has been shown to decrease both the rate and risk of falls,” Dr. Buxton explains. “While meeting with a physical therapist is essential, commitment to a daily independent home exercise program as prescribed by the therapist is where most of the improvement from PT occurs.”

By conducting a thorough  fall assessment, our physicians at Pacific Brain Health Center can identify risk factors and create personalized fall prevention programs for seniors and individuals at higher risk of falling.

Who is at risk for falls?

Care partner and loved one hugging

Balance is maintained by the complex interactions of many organs in the body, including our eyes, brains, muscles, blood vessels, and skeleton. Disorders affecting any of these organs can directly impact balance.

In particular, people living with with visual problems (including cataracts), inner ear issues (vestibulopathy), hydrocephalus, movement disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease), certain types of dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as well as survivors of stroke and other vascular diseases, are at at higher risk of falling.

In addition, people living with brain tumors are also at an increased risk of falling. Akanksha Sharma, MD, Neuro-oncologist at the Pacific Brain Tumor Center, explains further:

Patients living with brain tumors often are at an increased risk of falls, due to the neurological impact of the tumor which can range from weakness, vertigo, balance problems, and issues with sight or sensation.

It is very important that these patients be referred to a physical therapist, but until those visits start, we need to provide our patients and families with practical, useful information to keep them safe. Senior Physical Therapist Corwin Patis has helped us do exactly that with this excellent video that touches on many key aspects of how to help a loved one at risk of falling.

Dr. Sharma

Pacific Brain Health Center

At the Pacific Brain Health Center, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care to patients with dementia and associated neurological disorders, memory loss, depression, anxiety and addiction.

Our doctors are equipped to evaluate all factors contributing to fall risk during our initial consultations with patients. In our clinic, we meticulously review the patient’s medical history, conduct thorough examinations, and, if necessary, administer diagnostic tests to assess the functionality of nerves and muscles.

Schedule a Consultation | 310-582-7641

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Last updated: July 5th, 2023