Parkinson’s fighters are at a higher risk for falls due to stiff muscles, freezing, and balance impairment. Falls can be mild or significant. But, the fear of falling in people living with Parkinson’s is real.
Luckily, certain modifications along with working with your doctor (to ensure that your treatments are optimal) can make you prevent fall around the home. Incorporate the following changes in your routine and surroundings to reduce the risk of falling.
1 . Make modifications to your home
Certain adaptations can be made in your home (with the help of an occupational therapist) to make falls less frequent. These changes could be:
- removing throw rugs and loose wires.
- ensuring wide pathways through furniture.
- adding non-skid mats and grab bars to showers and bathtubs.
- keeping furniture in its usual place.
- making sure bathrooms, halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit at night.
- installing non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove.
- installing a rail on both sides of the stairs.
- installing metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure.
2 . Use walking aids
If the balance is a continuous problem, consider using a walking aid such as a cane, walking stick, or walker. Use them until you master walking without their help.
Remember, using walking aids while carrying heavy objects in both hands and wearing slippery shoes won’t help you. So as a thumb rule, always avoid multitasking while walking.
3 . Learn to overcome a freezing episode
Since freezing often contributes to falling in Parkinson’s, learn ways to overcome freezing episodes, such as walking to a rhythm (listening to a beat or music can help), moving from side to side before stepping forward. Other ways to avoid freezing episodes may include:
- shifting your weight from foot to foot.
- visualizing an imaginary line to step over.
- prompting yourself by saying aloud ‘left, right, left, right’ or ‘one, two, one, two’, or ‘one, two, three, step’.
4 . Practice good postural habits while walking
To keep yourself from falling, you should swing both arms from front to back while walking. It should help you to maintain balance, posture, and reduce fatigue. You should also:
- lift your feet off of the ground. Shuffling and dragging your feet may cause you to lose your balance.
- use a “U” technique when trying to navigate turns. Face forward and make a wide turn, rather than pivoting sharply.
- consciously stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. When your feet are close together, you increase your risk of losing balance and falling.
- move slowly when changing positions. Count 15 between each movement.
5 . Consult your doctor
If you have experienced an increase in the frequency of falls recently, consult your doctor. Adjusting medications can be helpful in some situations. Assessment by a physical therapist or occupational therapist may also be needed to offer you advice and strategies on preventing falls. As a thumb rule, always take your medications on time.
6 . Never miss exercising
Exercising regularly helps improve balance, and reduce the risk of falls. Exercises that challenge your balance are especially beneficial, improving your attention, concentration and focus on activity and movement at the same time.