Falls occur for a wide variety of reasons: leg weakness; poor balance; diminished eyesight; environmental hazards; cardiovascular problems; etc. Not to be overlooked, falls can be caused by simply trying to do something beyond your ability level. This often occurs because a patient thinks that because they could something in the PAST, they should be able to still do it in the PRESENT. A quick example is my uncle trying to roller skate at age 70 because he was able to at age 50. It didn’t go well and he fell – really hard! He said trying to roller skate after 20 years was “dumb” – another way of saying it was beyond his ability level. Use the following list of risky behaviors to help educate your patients on what not to do:
1. Walking without a cane or walker when one is needed.
2. Climbing on chair or stool to reach high shelves.
3. Hurrying when walking – common among patients with short windows between need to use bathroom and using bathroom.
4. Carrying big or heavy objects.
5. Walking in areas that are poorly lit.
6. Bending over to pick up a coin off the ground.
7. Balancing on one foot in the shower to shave leg.
8. Missing a step or curb because it was not well marked (or sun was in eyes).
9. Walking on slick surfaces: ice on sidewalk or water on floor.
10. Standing on toilet to reach a high shelf.