The first day of fall on September 22 also marks Fall Prevention Awareness Day, according to a recent American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) news release. In recognition of the upcoming date, the AOTA has released a comprehensive tip sheet outlining what individuals can do to reduce the risk of falls and also what suggestions and approaches that occupational therapy (OT) practitioners will likely provide to assist in fall prevention.
Included in the tip sheet are recommendations to remove clutter from the home in order to bolster fall prevention. To this end, an OT practitioner will provide suggestions including furniture arrangement that offers plenty of room to walk freely and removing throw rugs or securing them firmly to the floor. To reduce their fall risk, individuals can also avoid using fixtures such as towel bars and sink edges for support as these items could come away from the wall. OT practitioners also recommend installing railings and grab bars throughout the home in locations appropriate for the user. Nonslip strips and rubber mats on the floor of the tub or shower can also assist in fall prevention.
Karen Smith, OT, CAPS, practice associate for the AOTA, notes that ensuring an individual’s environment accommodates their ability is vital in fall prevention, “A key focus of occupational therapy is looking at the person’s environmental fit. If the home or other environment is not supporting the person’s abilities, the OT can provide an assessment and recommendations to make it safer and encourage participation in meaningful activities.”
Components that may also be included in an OT’s efforts to work with older adults and caregivers to educate them about strategies and behaviors to reduce fall risk and facilitate maximum independence, are home modifications and assistive technology to support aging in place. The AOTA adds that assessment and intervention to reduce fall risk may also include conducting an activity analysis to recommend approaches that can assist in safely continuing activities or modifications to movements in order to enhance confidence. A review of the entire home may also be conducted to ensure easy and safe navigation and access to items used regularly, the release notes.
To learn more about reducing fall risk and making the home safer, visit http://www.aota.org