As our loved ones age, it’s important to help in preventing falls in an effort to help save them from devastating effects on their health. There are steps you can take to lower the risk. It is always a good idea to have a conversation with your loved one’s doctor about what might be appropriate. Here are a few talking points for preventing falls to discuss with your loved one and/or their doctor.

  1. Start by asking your loved one’s doctor whether they are at high risk for falls.
  2. Ask your loved one’s doctor whether they are any steps you can take to prevent avoidable falls.
  3. Discuss scheduling an appointment to have your loved one’s vision checked at least once a year.
  4. Ask the doctor or pharmacist to review the side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  5. Encourage the use of appropriate footwear. The safest shoes tend to have lower heels, non-slip soles, and a secure fit with laces or straps. In the nursing home setting, non-slip slippers should be provided to the residents.
  6. Inspect your loved one’s home for tripping hazards such as wires and phone cords away from hallways and stairways.
  7. Install nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways.
  8. Install grab bars in your loved one’s tub or shower.
  9. Install non-skid liners under rugs.
  10. Encourage your loved one to exercise as much as possible. Exercise increases strength, flexibility, and balance. This includes encouraging physical therapy for nursing home residents.
  11. If your loved one is a fall risk, it might be best to lower their bed to make it closer to the ground. Also, consider positioning the bed in the corner of the room and placing protective mats around the bed to reduce the force if they fall to the floor.
  12. Institute a toileting schedule where you encourage trips to the bathroom at regularly scheduled intervals. Seniors with cognitive difficulties who are not capable of walking to the bathroom by themselves often forget this when they experience the need to use the bathroom. A toileting schedule reduces the chance that your loved one would try to go to the bathroom late at night without assistance.

It would be best to discuss these ideas with your loved one’s physician. Great communication between the family and the interdisciplinary team is the best way to prevent avoidable injuries.