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Three Unlikely Fall Culprits 

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Three Unlikely Fall Culprits 

Occupational Therapist Raheema Hemraj shares a few home-based fall culprits that may surprise you. 


The following blog post was written by Raheema Hemraj, an Occupational Therapist and Gerontologist with a speciality in falls prevention. She has over 15 years of experience working with older adults to promote successful aging-in-place and currently provides group and home-based falls education through Stanford Health Care’s Farewell to Falls program. 


Research has shown us that there are many factors that can contribute to falls. One of the largest causes of falls are “slips and trips” and this begs the question -  what are people slipping on or tripping over? We might think about some common culprits, such as uneven floors, ice, and rugs. Here are a few others though that might surprise you.


Leaves

While the change of seasons can be beautiful, falling leaves in autumn can bring with them an unwelcome risk. Did you know that wet leaves, particularly when piled together, can be as slippery as ice? A pile of leaves can also hide uneven ground or other fall risks underneath them. When walking outside, look out for patches of leaves and try to walk around them. It’s also important to wear good shoes that are weather-appropriate and can help protect from slips.


Pets

Our furry friends are adorable and important family members, but it’s important to recognize that pets and pet items, such as their toys, beds and food bowls, can pose fall risks. A recent study found that 86,629 fall injuries each year were associated with cats and dogs. About 66.4% of falls associated with cats and 31.3% of falls associated with dogs were caused by falling or tripping over the pet. An additional 21.2% of falls related to dogs were caused by being pushed or pulled. Strategies can be used to reduce these risks, such as obedience training and placing items off of common pathways.


Slippers

The “slip” in slippers is commonly used to describe how easy the shoe can be to put on. But that also means they’re just as easy to come off, and not always when you want them to! Slippers come in many forms, but typically they don’t have secure soles, good fit and aren’t able to keep their shape. This leaves us with shoes that can be risky while walking around unsuspectingly in the comfort of our own home. One study showed that wearing slippers can increase the risk of falls in older adults and another reported that the most commonly worn footwear at the time of fall-related hip fractures was slippers. It’s important to wear well-fitting shoes with slip-resistant soles, even when at home. 



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