Osteoporosis Fall Prevention

People living with osteoporosis know how damaging a fall can be to their bones. Luckily, it’s easy to protect yourself from broken bones, hip fractures and more by following a few simple fall prevention tips.

Tips for Preventing Falls Outdoors

It’s easy to take a tumble when you’re outside. Cracks in sidewalks, broken tree limbs on the street and overly eager pets trying to get your attention can cause you to lose your balance and fall. Here are some tips for preventing falls while you are outside:

  • Avoid walking on sidewalks and streets that are cracked and/or have uneven surfaces.
  • Avoid walking outside when it is dark or in areas that are poorly lit.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes.
  • If the sidewalks are slippery from rain or sprinklers, walk on the grass.
  • Use a cane or walker in order to gain stability.
  • Use extra caution when walking on icy or snow-covered streets or sidewalks. Consider carrying rock salt with you to melt ice and snow on surfaces. You can also sprinkle kitty litter or sand on surfaces to provide more traction.
  • Wear shoes with soles that offer a lot of traction. Shoes with rubber soles are often your best choice.
  • When possible, hold on to railings.

Tips for Preventing Falls in Your Home

People often overlook the household dangers that can cause a person to lose balance and fall. However, items on the floor, wet bathroom tiles, dark hallways and more can pose a danger to people living with osteoporosis.

Here are some tips for preventing falls in and around your home:

  • Always hold the railing when walking up and down stairs.
  • Consider buying a cordless phone and carrying it with you throughout the house. This will prevent you from having to rush to the phone to answer it.
  • Ensure that your house is sufficiently lit.
  • Keep clutter off of the floor.
  • Keep flashlights in easily accessible locations in all rooms of the house.
  • Keep stepping stools in areas of your home that have hard-to-reach shelving, cabinets, etc. The stools should be sturdy, have wide steps and offer a rail for you to grasp while climbing.
  • Keep tiles, hardwood floors, linoleum, etc., free of moisture.
  • Keep wires and electrical cords off the floor or against the wall to prevent you from tripping on them.
  • Keep your floors clean but not slippery. Avoid using waxes or polishes on floors.
  • Keep your house at a constant, comfortable temperature. Extreme temperatures can make you dizzy and impair your balance.
  • Place a textured rubber bath mat in your tub to prevent falls.
  • Place nightlights throughout your house.
  • Put no-slip strips on the bottoms of your rugs to ensure they won’t move when you walk across them. These strips are available at many home improvement and hardware stores.
  • Put railings in the bathroom near the toilet, tub and shower.
  • Use a reach stick to grab items in hard-to-reach places. You can buy reach sticks and grabbing tools at many hardware stores.

Other Steps to Help Prevent Falls

In addition to following the above-mentioned tips for preventing falls you can help avoid falls by:

  • Avoiding alcohol: Alcoholic beverages can impair your balance and slow your reflexes.
  • Getting regular exercise: Regular exercise increases bone mass, builds muscle and can help improve your flexibility and balance. Talk to your doctor about establishing an exercise routing.
  • Having your eyes and ears tested: Being able to see and hear clearly can help you avoid falls. Get regular vision and hearing exams.
  • Knowing the side effects of your medications: Some medications might make you dizzy, drowsy or less alert, all of which can contribute to a fall. If you have osteoporosis and are taking a medication that could impair your balance or ability to walk, talk to your doctor. She might be able to change your prescription.

Resources

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Staff. (2002). Preventing falls among seniors. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/spotlite/falls.htm.

National Institute on Aging Staff. (2007). Falls and Fractures. Retrieved June 15, 2007, from U.S. National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging Web site: http://www.niapublications.org/agepages/falls.asp.