External Risk Factors For Falls

Health Revolution

By Dr. Tyler Kinch
An older man has fallen on the ground and is being helped up by his wife.

At the end of the day falling is inevitable. As we age in life we don’t just start falling more. We lose the ability to catch ourselves. Think of all the times you catch your foot on a curb or trip over that invisible line on the ground. You body has the ability to catch itself before you fall. As we age we this is one of the main reasons we fall.

What are some external factors?

External means anything in our environment or outside of our body that would lead to a fall. These theoretically can be adjusted for or removed completely. Any fall that occurs from an external factor can potentially be limited if not removed entirely.  These are a few but not the full list of potential external risk factors to falling.

  • Lighting – Many falls happen in the middle of the night. The individual is trying to go to the bathroom or navigate in the dark. Adding lighting along the path towards the bathroom will help illuminate potential tripping hazards.
  • Stairs – Navigating this obstacle requires a certain amount of leg strength. Leg strength is an internal issue but if there is a way to avoid stairs all together if someone has balance or weakness issues, then that could prevent falls.
  • Rugs – Although pretty, they are one of the more common reasons for falls. Someone’s assistive device catches the edge or trips over the rug leading to a fall.
  • Handrails – More importantly the lack of handrails in certain parts of the home. Trying to go up/ down stairs, get in and out of the shower or near the toilet without handrails may lead to a fall.
  • Unlevel Ground – As we age our equilibrium starts to change along with our balance. This too is an internal risk factor but avoiding unlevel ground until you can work on your personal limitations will help reduce risk of falls.
  • Shoes – Many people wear house shoes or flip flops. When the shoe is not firmly attached to your foot there is an increase chance it catches on something or one does not clear the foot enough while using this type of shoe.
  • Assisted Device – Either using the wrong assistive device or not using one properly. It is hard for people to go from a cane to a walker. This decline makes them believe they are losing their independence. Sadly when these warnings or changes in the body occur and are not addressed people are more likely to fall. Or if the AD is not fitted for you or your home and you have to try and fit a walker through a door that increases your risk of falling.
  • Clutter – FInally the more things in your home or in the way the more likely you are to trip over said object. Clearing pathways throughout the home will reduce the risk of tripping when you are in a hurry or the lights are off.
Values

Trust – We must have trust in each other to reach your goals.

Altruism – Your success in health is our true passion and joy.

Education –  We must know our bodies and reason why change is important.

Accountability – We will hold you accountable for your commitment to your health.

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