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Fall prevention tips available online

This is a comprehensive list on the Mayo Clinic's website

Photo of An Old Friend

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These are the fall prevention tips listed on the Mayo Clinic's website.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor

Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking, such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.
  • Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

2. Keep moving

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor's OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

If you avoid physical activity because you're afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.

3. Wear sensible shoes

Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.

4. Remove home hazards

Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.

5. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

6. Use assistive devices

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

This is quite a list. It covers some of the causes of falls and preventive measures we've mentioned, and leaves out others. 

For example, Minerva is physically active and she has support bars in the bathroom, but she's also organized her home so she can avoid the stairs, something that isn't mentioned. Sana's Nanu exercises, takes an interest in her healthcare and is up front with her doctor, but she's also adjusted her diet to control her weight, and this again is a factor that's not mentioned. E exercises, goes to physical therapists, avoids poor light situations and has gotten rid of rugs that might trip him up. This woman uses assistive devices.

From the senior center, some have tried assistive devices and have had them work for them, others have had to improvise with shopping carts. Some used tips that are on this list: visiting the doctor, wearing sensible footwear and exercising. Others have mentioned tips that are not on this list, like eating healthy.

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What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

It seems like there are fall-prevention tips that do address some of the causes of falling. Some seniors are aware of them and some are not. Many don't practice all these. However, many have adapted their own lifestyles and developed their own strategies for fall prevention. I am doing a follow-up post with a 78-year-old woman about how many of these tips she's aware of and how many she practices.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am an NYU student with three years of experience in the digital journalism field. I am now getting some expertise in the user testing field.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Sanjana!

Great post! I like the fact that you have highlighted some of the older adults' tips mentioned in the posts in this challenge. There are a few more in the post on Understanding Senior Needs 

It would be interesting to know the perspectives of the experts on the older adults' tips.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Kate, adding the contributions from Tuba's article to my post!
I think I can try to take this list to a doctor or physical therapist who works with seniors and get their take on it.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Sanjana.
I like how you are following up with adults in the community to see if they are aware of the professional's advice and tips. I also love how you have engaged with this group of seniors and have been able to find out that they have created their own individual strategies that work for them - incorporating some professional tips and also discovering other ways to be proactive.

Were you able to follow up and ask any experts about the tips that the seniors came up with themselves?

I asked a few seniors I know whether they had been given tips or a fall prevention checklist. None had. In the group that you met with, do you know where they received advice/tips?

Photo of An Old Friend

Hi Bettina,

The seniors I spoke to hadn't been given this kind of a list by their doctors. The main way they were aware of them was through word of mouth via friends and family, and occasionally through the internet. Their doctors had mentioned a couple of them here and there, and they've also heard a lot of horror stories of people in their peer networks falling.

I did have an interview scheduled with a family physician last week, but he asked me to reschedule for next week, so I'm not sure I'll be able to meet him before the deadline. I'm still following up though, because I'm interested in his perspective and I think it could be useful even in the ideation phase. If possible, I will update this post with the information once I get it.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks Sanjana. These lists exist but we are not finding people who have received them, or found them online for their use. Umm?

I think it is a great idea to follow up with the family doctor during the Idea Phase! You might be able to get more insights and feedback on any ideas you are developing.

I just posted this - Have a look. The NYCDOH and the CDC both have checklists in multiple languages. I linked checklists in English on the post I just did. Maybe take some to the seniors when you next visit with them and see what they think?

Photo of An Old Friend

Checked out your post Bettina Fliegel looks like both us have identified a major education problem. I'll take the checklist with me the next time I visit K and see what she has to say. Will keep you posted on what the physician says!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Sounds like a plan! Will you be at the Design Jam on Friday?

Photo of An Old Friend

Unfortunately I won't be Bettina Fliegel I have a class on Friday! But I'll be at all the Tuesday sessions in case you're coming :)

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Good luck with ideation! Enjoy the process!

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks! Have fun at the Design Jam :)