This post is written by Mindy Oxman Renfro, PT, PhD, DPT, GCS Chair, APTA’s AGPT Balance & Falls SIGLead. The post originally appeared in the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy/APTA group and is reprinted with her permission.
As winter approaches, the risk of falls to you, your families and your patients grows. Please help us to be proactive as a profession to prevent that first fall! Remember, when you treat an injury from a fall to also treat the reason for the fall! Here are seven simple steps that YOU can take today to make a big impact on falls for older adults in your area:
- Raise awareness through posting and dissemination of this simple and colorful infographic from the National Council on Aging, which can be downloaded here https://www.ncoa.org/improve-health/falls-prevention/take-control-of-your-health.html
- Check shoes, boots, and assistive devices and be sure that they are “winterized”.
- Ingrid – Ice Gripper Cane Tip is available here: https://www.fashionablecanes.com/Ice_Attachment.html and also can be found here https://cozywinters.com/shop/cane-ice-grip-spike.html
- Yaktrax Spikeless Ice & Snow Shoe Gripper Sole Covers are available here: https://www.fashionablecanes.com/Ice_Attachment.html
- Keen shoes can be found here: https://www.onlineshoes.com/keen-b_id38?adtrack=msns&term=keens&creative=3782574466&device=c&matchtype=b
- Here’s a cheap way to make wheelchair snow tires: https://www.usatechguide.org/blog/wheelchair-improve-traction/
- Encourage elders 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. Print this handout here: https://www.ehow.com/info_12021617_kitty-litter-make-ice-less-slippery.html
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 multi-focal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses
- Grab bars in bathroom and by 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 STEADIfall risk screening tool as part of your normal intake and reevaluation process. You can learn to administer the STEADI here: www.cdc.gov/injury/steadi and you can learn how to use the Otago Fall Prevention program as part of your rehab program here: https://www.med.unc.edu/aging/cgec/exercise-program
Help make this season a warm and wonderful holiday for your patients, your family and your community.Wishing you and your families all of the blessings of the season and thanking you each for everything you do for older adults!
Mindy Oxman Renfro, PT, PhD, DPT, GCSChair, APTA’s AGPT Balance & Falls SIGLead, Montana’s Falls Free Coalition UMs Rural Institute/ MonTECH programs
Phone: 406. 243-2841