May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. Millions of Americans are affected by the symptoms of arthritis everyday. Arthritis can lead to stiff and painful joints which can often make balance and strength worse among this population. This decline in our functioning is often a leading factor of falls in the elderly. Most of these falls occur in or around the individual’s own home. Here is a list of some important safety tips to help reduce the incidence of falls in the senior population:
- Make sure all stair railings are secured to the wall
- Have light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs
- Place non-skid pads on each step
- Place a reflective marker on the first and last step to alert when the stairs are ending or beginning
- Install non-skid strips in the tub or shower
- Make sure that any bath mat has a non-skid bottom
- Install grab bars for the shower, tub, and toilet
- If there is a lock on the door, make sure you can access it from both sides in case of an emergency
High Traffic Areas
- Make sure there are no area rugs that an individual could trip over
- Make sure any carpet is securely in place with no frayed edges
- Install bright lights in hallways and other high traffic areas
- Make sure any electrical cords are securely tucked away and away from open spaces
- Remove any furniture or decorative pieces that could pose a risk for falls
- In the front entryway, make sure shoes are stowed away in a closet and not laying around
General Home Safety Tips
- Check all outside entryways and make sure that steps and railings are secure
- If there are doorway sills that are not flush with the floor, consider painting them a bright color or using reflective tape so they are more visible
- Place a phone in each room for easy access in case of an emergency
- Install carbon monoxide detectors and make sure there are no fire hazards such as space heaters
- Always be careful with pets, especially small dogs and cats that can quietly sneak up behind you
Individual Safety Measures
- Consider having a medical alert system. These are usually worn around the neck with a button that will call the paramedics in case of a fall or other emergency if there is not a phone within reach.
- If you wear shoes in the house, make sure they fit properly and have a good sole to help with stability
- Make sure that any assisted aid used, such as a cane or walker, is the appropriate fit and height
- Have regular and frequent vision and hearing checks
- Make sure medications have not reached the expiration date and always review the medication list with your physician. Interactions may lead to symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness which can lead to a fall.
Consider these tips if you are elderly and fearful of falling or if you have a loved one who might be at risk. You can also visit the Arthritis Foundation website at www.arthritis.org for more information.
If you would like to see an Athletico physical therapist about your arthritis, please use the button below to schedule a complimentary injury screen at a clinic near you.
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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.