Recommendations on fall prevention


by Joe Steckler
President, Helping Seniors of Brevard County

Over the years I have done many radio and TV shows and written articles on fall prevention. Chris Marriott, Director of Physical Therapy from Kindred at Home, has spoken about their Safe Strides fall prevention program on several of my shows. Today I will talk about a personal experience, which can often be the best teacher.

For those of you who are first-time readers, I have a lower back problem, fibromyalgia, and very poor balance. I use a cane and 4 wheel rollator to keep me from falling. The other day I had just finished my shower and was hanging up a sweat shirt. The door hook was a little high, and as I reached I lost my balance and fell.

I have had some training in how to fall, but granite tile is still hard and can cause damage. Fortunately I sort of crumbled to the floor and rolled to my right side. I called my wife who brought a pillow to put under my knees so I could crawl to a place where I could use a combination of my rollator and furniture to safely stand. I was lucky as many elders in a similar situation break a bone and enter a hospital from which they never leave.

As this example shows, those who use assisted walking devices should have a plan in case the unexpected occurs. When walking with my 4 wheel rollator, I am extremely careful to maintain my balance. Knowing that I tend to overextend makes me cautious as I move forward so that I can equalize pressure on the wheels. Three wheel rollators can be even trickier. Frail elders who use a device with only one forward wheel are more prone to falling. It is important for those of us who need assisted walking devices to use one best suited to our needs. I prefer the 4 wheel one with a built in seat so that I can rest when I become tired.

While I am on the subject, I think more of us need to wear a medical alert button around our neck. Preventing a fall is one thing, but once a fall has occurred it is important to get help. Making an ill advised move on your own can cause additional damage. If you live alone, it is even more important to have an alert device. I recently heard of a person who took three days to crawl to a phone after he fell, whereas he could have pushed one button to get instant help.

There are no shortage of similar stories I could relate, as could many of you. Suffice it to say that alert and assistance devices become more important as we age. Making the decision to purchase an assistance device is one step in the right direction; wearing or using the device then becomes our challenge, as we must protect ourselves as best we can.

Once you choose your device, learn how to use it properly, and then use it! The same goes for any other safety device you select. As we age we become more prone to losing our balance or making a misstep and falling. Many falls can be prevented –  continued caution is one thing we can all practice, so be prepared and use the device most suited to your individual situation.Contact Helping Seniors at 321-473-7770, at, or at P.O. Box 372936, Satellite Beach, FL 32937.