Healthy Aging Month is a time to focus on the positives of aging as well as the steps we can take to meet the challenges associated with getting older. As we experience changes in health, physical condition and medication regimens, it is imperative that we take falls more seriously.

Falls are a major cause of injury, restricted mobility and loss of independence. Since falls pose a significant threat to our health and wellbeing, a fundamental component of RehabCare’s wellness program, Smart Moves, consists of educating patients during their treatment about how they can take charge of managing their fall risk. As part of the program, Smart Moves clinicians evaluate the home for hazards that could lead to a fall. Our Smart Moves clinicians follow these tips and guidelines to secure patients’ residences and prevent falls to foster an environment of safety and independence:

General Safety
• Keep emergency phone numbers programmed on your phone or written down on a piece of paper close to your phone.
• Pay special attention to pets, who can get underfoot and accidentally cause falls.
• Keep newspapers and magazines off floors.

Kitchen Safety
• Clean up spills and broken glass immediately.
• Keep commonly used items within reach.
• Never use a chair as a stepstool. If using a stepstool, opt for one with a bar to hold onto.
• Use non-skid floor cleaner instead of wax.

Bathroom Safety
• To prevent slipping, use non-slip rubber mats on tub and shower floors.
• Always make sure the floor is dry.
• Consider placing nightlights along the path from the bathroom to the bedroom. Motion-activated lights can be a good option.
• Install grab bars and handrails in the shower if necessary.

Bedroom Safety
• Keep a phone within reach of your bed.
• Have a lamp or light switch at the door to prevent accidents in a dark room. A lamp or light switch should also be within reach of the bed. Motion-activated lights can be a good option.
• Refrain from changing positions too quickly when getting out of bed in order to avoid dizziness.
• Avoid hazardous placement of furniture.

Floors, Stairways and Paths
• Stairways should be well lit and free of items.
• Be sure to have handrails along all stairways. Installing handrails on each side is ideal.
• Remove throw rugs or make sure that they are secured with adhesive or double-sided tape.
• Fix uneven or broken steps, and make sure that carpet is firmly attached to each step.
• Take your time ascending and descending stairways.
• Tape electrical cords to walls.
• Do not use floor polish.

In addition to outfitting the home as a fall-free zone, Smart Moves works with patients on maintaining strength and coordination, taking medications as prescribed and eating and exercising regularly. For more information about Smart Moves and healthy aging, visit https://www.rehabcare.com/contract-rehabilitation/smart-moves-wellness
By Margaret Schmidt