Fall Prevention 101, Part 2

As a follow up to my previous entry, I would like to continue some simple strategies to prevent falls using adaptive equipment. As an Occupational Therapist, I have worked with Seniors almost exclusively over the past 10 years. I have found that good quality adaptive equipment can significantly help with fall prevention.

Most of the following adaptive equipment can be purchased at local pharmacies, home improvement or medical supply stores.

– Raised Toilet Seat: These easy-to-install toilet seats typically fit on top of any toilet to increase the height, therefore improving independence and safety for sit-to-stand movement. Some have arms while others do not. I prefer the seats that lock in place.

– Bedside Commode: This item is basically a portable toilet. It is appropriate for people that are unable to access a bathroom or are getting up frequently for nighttime toileting. It can be used as an elevated toilet frame to improve sit-to-stand movement from the toilet much like the raised toilet seat mentioned above.

– Shower Chair or Bench: A lot of people avoid bathing all together because of fear of falling in the shower. When people are sitting on a shower seat, they are less likely to lose their balance, especially if they close their eyes when washing their hair or bending down to wash their feet. A bench is most appropriate for people that that are unable to lift their legs over the edge of a tub due to leg pain, weakness or balance deficits.

– Hand Held Shower: One of the problems with using a shower seat is that you cannot get in and out of the stream of water the way you can when you are standing. A hand held shower gives a person or caregiver control of the water for better accuracy.

– Grab Bars: Properly installed, grab bars can assist for sit-to-stand movement from a toilet or getting in and out of the tub. Towel bars and NOT an acceptable substitute for they can pull away from the wall with minimal force.

– Non-Skid Mats: As the name implies, these provide a non-skid surface for the bottom of the tub or shower. If the surface of the tub is already textured, I have found that most suction cup mats will not stick properly so be sure to check for this.

Again, most falls are preventable. Sometimes, all it takes is adaptive or assistive equipment to make the bathroom a safer place.

Medicare may not cover many of these items. Be sure to consult with the store’s personnel on this subject.

Stay tuned to more posts on Juvo’s Live Actively Blog!

Occupational Therapist

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