Winterize to Prevent Falls
- Raise awareness by posting and disseminating this simple and colorful infographic — 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall — from the National Council on Aging.
- Check shoes, boots, and assistive devices and be sure that they are “winterized.”
- Encourage older adults to carry a Ziploc bag filled with a lightweight kitty litter in their pocket and cast it out ahead of themselves on very slick surfaces. More information about using kitty litter for traction can be found here.
- ‘Tis the season for gift giving! Encourage adult children to give fall-proofing holiday gifts to their parents:
- Fall alarm systems that are motion triggered without hitting a button
- Higher toilets in the home
- Replace multifocal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses
- Grab bars in bathroom and next to outside steps or inside thresholds
- Install firm stair railings on both sides of stair ways and set automatic lights over stairways and by outside entrances
- Cover the entryway to the home and provide a table to set down bags while finding keys
- Give tiny flashlights to attach to keys, hats, and coat buttons. Shorter days mean more time in the dark.
- Begin to check ALL older adults with the STEADI fall risk screening tool as part of your normal intake and re-evaluation process. You can learn to administer the STEADI screen and you can learn how to use the Otago Fall Prevention Program and other evidence-based falls prevention programs as part of your community-based fall prevention programs.
Help make this season a safe, warm and wonderful one for your patients, your family and your community.
Source: Mindy Oxman Renfro, PT, PhD, DPT, GCS; Chair, American Physical Therapy Association’s AGPT Balance & Falls SIG; Lead, Montana’s Falls Free Coalition; University of Montana Rural Institute/MonTECH programs.