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How to Prevent Falls

Preventing falls is a special concern for men and women with osteoporosis. Falls can increase the likelihood of fracturing a bone in the hip, wrist, spine, or other part of the skeleton. In addition to the environmental factors listed below, falls can also be caused by impaired vision and/or balance, chronic diseases that affect mental or physical functioning, and certain medications, such as sedatives and some antidepressants. It is important that individuals with osteoporosis be aware of any physical changes that affect their balance or gait, and that they discuss these changes with their health care provider. 

Here are some tips to help eliminate the environmental factors that lead to falls.

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Outdoors:

  • Use a cane or walker for added stability.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes for traction.
  • Walk on grass when sidewalks are slippery.
  • In winter, carry salt or kitty litter to sprinkle on slippery sidewalks.

Indoors:

  • Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors.
  • Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery.
  • Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes even at home.
  • Be careful on highly polished floors that become slick and dangerous when wet.
  • Avoid walking in socks, stockings, or slippers.
  • Be sure carpets and area rugs have skid-proof backing or are tacked to the floor.
  • Be sure stairwells are well lit and that stairs have handrails on both sides.
  • Install grab bars on bathroom walls near the tub, shower, and toilet.
  • Use a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed.
  • If using a step stool for hard-to-reach areas, use a sturdy one with a handrail and wide steps.
  • Add ceiling fixtures to rooms lit by lamps.
  • Consider purchasing a cordless phone so that you don’t have to rush to answer it or so that you can call for help if you do fall.

To reduce your risk of breaking a bone in the event that you fall, get regular exercise and talk to your health care provider about taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 22, 2013
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