9 tips to help prevent falls in your home
The CDC reports that 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, leading to more than 3 million injuries and 800,000 hospitalizations. As members of the care management team at IU Health Connected Care in Indianapolis, our job is to help keep our patients as safe and healthy as possible, and that often includes conversations about their home and risk of falling.
IU HealthConnected Care is enhanced primary care exclusively for adults on Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare/Medicaid. The Connected Care team includes a physician, an advanced practice provider, a clinical pharmacist, and clinical and administrative staff specializing in the management of chronic conditions. Connected Care patients can also choose to be part of our care management program which gives them additional access to a nurse, social worker, and patient care navigator between appointments. Together the care team creates a customized, coordinated, and convenient care plan that best meets a patient’s individual needs and wishes.
Many of our patients have the goal of “aging in place,” meaning they want to live at home, independently, rather than live in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Making sure their home environment is safe and taking steps to reduce the risk of falling at home is an important step towards achieving that goal.
Here are some tips we give our patients to reduce their risk of falling:
Make sure you have sturdy railings on all stairs inside and outside the home.
Remove clutter in hallways, stairs, and anywhere else you frequently travel.
Be mindful of small pets who might present a tripping hazard; consider attaching bells to collars if your pet tends to sneak up on you.
Remove throw rugs if possible or attach them securely to the floor.
You’re more likely to trip over something you can’t see. Visit your eye doctor regularly, and make sure your home is well-lit, particularly in high-traffic areas.
Wear supportive shoes that have a good grip.
Keep your phone with you, or make sure you have easily accessible phones in as many rooms as possible, so you don’t find yourself rushing to answer a call.
Consider installing grab bars, raised toilet seats, and/or shower seats in your bathroom. (Tip: Traditional Medicare does not cover these items, but if you have a Medicare Advantage or supplemental Medicare plan, you may have an “over the counter” allowance you can use to buy them. We’ve found many patients are unaware they have this benefit, so call your health plan and ask.)
If you have a cane, walker, or other mobility aid, use it!
In addition to making changes to your home environment, consider taking steps (with your doctor’s approval), to improve your strength and mobility through exercise. For example, some YMCA locations offer a “Movement for Better Balance” class specifically designed to help fall prevention. Another important consideration is whether any medications you are taking might cause dizziness. Make sure you pay attention to potential side effects, especially when any of your medications change.
For more tips and fall-prevention strategies, check out the National Council on Aging’s website: Falls Prevention for Older Adults (ncoa.org)
And if you have Medicare and are looking for a primary care provider, we’d love to talk to you! The Connected Care practice in Indianapolis is accepting new patients. We are located at 7140 E. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46219 in Suite 100. The office is open Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.
If you are interested in learning more about Connected Care or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 317.832.1780.