Fall Risk Series Part 1: Top 5 Fall Risk Factors Inside the Home

Did you know that October is National Physical Therapy Month? In honor of this time, Petersen Physical Therapy is offering free fall risk assessments for the entire month of October, in order to give back to the community. That’s it, no strings attached! If you are wondering whether you are at risk for falling, please call anyone of our four locations.  We will assess your risk level and provide you with some exercises and lifestyle suggestions to improve your balance/coordination, and decrease your risk of falling.

This will be the first in a 4 post series about fall risks, and some of the solutions you can employ to reduce the risk of falling. The articles will be posted on Mondays during the month of October. Watch this space.

The topic of today’s post will be:

What are the Top 5 Major Fall Risks in the House?

Falling has always been one of the leading causes of serious injuries in the United States, and around the world. Consider the following statistics:

One in three seniors over the age of 65 experience a fall per every year, and one in five falls causes a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury.

There is good reason to be concerned about this issue.

The 5 most common fall risks in the home are throw rugs and pets, so lets start there:

1. Carpets/Rugs

The edge of a carpet is an obvious place to be careful, but what about the middle? Thing about a throw rug that gets bunched up when walked on a lot. It’s true, the middle of a rug can be the most fall-causing area. The reason is simple: we’re not watching our feet around the middle of the carpet.

The solution: Make sure rugs are straightened out. Pay attention to your footing while on a carpet or rug.

2. Pets

Pets love to be the center of attention! While most of us have a soft spot in our hearts for the animals in our lives, they can also present some of the greatest fall risks. It’s important to pay attention to an animal’s movements as we enter a room, especially if you know that your pet has a tendency to dart across the room suddenly.

The solution: Since pets are always moving, there’s not a simple answer to this question. You know your animal, and you know where in the room they generally lay and walk. When you enter a room, make sure you know where your pets are.

3. Low Light

Low light is one of the factors that present the highest fall risks. We must be aware of it, especially since we ar presented with this obstacle every day, either early in the morning before the sun comes up, or walking around the house/yard at night. The obvious risk presented by low light is that it makes other fall risk factors more dangerous. The clutter in the room or the aforementioned pets become harder to see and anticipate.

The solution: Leave night lights around the house. Have a lamp next to the bed (most of us already do), and be sure of your footing before you embark on a midnight journey to the kitchen or bathroom. The key is to light areas as you move through them. Using night lights to find light switches, and then turning on the switches as they become necessary to move through the next space.

4. Low Toilet Seats, Shower Seats, Slick Shower Floors

As humans grow older, our leg muscles atrophy. One of the most common “fall areas” is the bathroom. This results from a number of factors. Low toilet seats can be a hazard area if we attempt to stand back up and lose our balance in the process. Showers present a similar problem, as well as slick shower floors.

The solution: Have grab bars installed next to toilets and in showers. Utilize rubber floor inserts for showers. These installations work wonders.

5. Old, Uneven Chairs & Tables.

We’ve all owned a set of chairs that eventually became so unstable and loose that we weren’t sure if they’d support us the next time we sat in them! Don’t let this be you! One of the ways to mitigate your fall risk is to have a stable platform to push from as you sit down or stand up. Therefore, those old creaky chairs and tables may not be the best option for your kitchen, dining room, or living room.

The solution: While it’s technically an option to repair old furniture, we recommend buying newer, more stable pieces to use. You will notice an immediate improvement in your ability to sit down and stand up.

Some closing thoughts:

There are, of course, a number of other fall risk factors not mentioned in this blog post. These include clutter around the house and power cords across walkways and rooms. If any of these are present in your home, it’s recommended to reduce your fall risk by dealing with them as soon as possible.

Of course, there is no substitute for being careful! We know you want to continue to live a full life! Don’t let a fall affect that quality!

As mentioned earlier, please call if you are questioning whether or not you are at risk for a fall. We will provide a quick assessment and some specific suggestions to mitigate your chances of a fall, allowing you to continue to live your life without the fear of falling hanging over your head!

Please join us next week for Part 2 of our October Fall Risk Series!

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