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Preventing Falls

Falls are the most common cause of injury in older people, accounting for 84 percent of all hip fractures. Falls are among the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths. More than half occur at home and nearly 80 percent involve a person 65 or older.

Preventing Falls in the Hospital

  • Make sure you can reach your call light, your phone and other personal items before staff leaves your room.
  • If you can’t get out of bed, make sure you can reach your bedpan or urinal before staff leaves your room.
  • Use your call light when you need help.
  • If you have been instructed to stay in bed, use your call light and don’t try to get up.
  • If you feel weak or dizzy, ask for help when getting out of bed.
  • When getting out of bed, sit on the side of the bed for at least one full minute before standing.
  • When side rails are up, don’t try to crawl over them. Call for assistance.
  • Wear non-skid slippers or socks when walking.

Preventing Falls at Home

  • Begin an exercise program. 
    • Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce your risk of falling. 
    • Exercises that improve balance and coordination, such as Tai Chi, are most helpful. 
  • Ask your doctor or health care worker about the best exercises for you.
  • Make your home safer. 
    • About half of all falls happen at home. 
    • Remove trip hazards, such as papers, books, clothes or shoes, from stairs and other walkways. 
    • Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep them from slipping.
    • Keep items you use often in easily-reached cabinets. 
    • Install grab bars next to your toilet, tub or shower. 
    • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors. 
    • Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Lampshades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare. 
    • Have handrails and lights put in all staircases. 
    • Wear shoes that provide good support and have non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and shoes with deep treads.
  • Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take, including ones that don't need prescriptions such as cold medicines. As you get older, your body may react differently to some medications. Medicine can make you drowsy or light-headed, which can lead to a fall.
  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have an eye condition, such as glaucoma or cataracts, that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.
  • The Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Department of Trauma Services, in collaboration with Santa Barbara County Emergency Medical Services, local physicians and allied health professionals, are committed to decreasing the frequency and severity of fall injuries.

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