Assistive Devices to Stop Falls

My grandfather, Bill, is an important figure in my life. He is an electrical engineer who had a very successful career, but he didn’t know anything about fall prevention when he retired.

In my observation, that is pretty typical for a retiree unless they worked in geriatric healthcare or fall prevention for their career.

Now, my grandfather decided to buy some assistive devices to stop falls. He has a cane, a walker, and a wheelchair in his garage that he keeps hanging up on the wall because he knows how important these items can be in preventing falls.

When we get together and talk about the importance of keeping the cane around in case he is having a tough day and keeping the walker around in case of a dizzy spell, he says to me:

“I am 94 years old now. It seems completely logical that I might need a cane or a walker.”

I encourage you to think of it in the same way!

When some people refuse to use assistive devices to stop falls, it can put a lot of stress and strain on the family and the caregivers. Not only that, but by using an assistive device, you can decrease your likelihood of falls. Using assistive devices to stop falls is one of the home safety recommendations that might help reduce your risk of falling, but there is still a chance of falls.

How to Get Help

It is also important to plan how you are going to call for help in case you do fall. Some people wear pendants around their neck, some wear the wrist buttons, some people keep a cell phone in their pocket, and some people keep a phone on a table that they can reach from the floor. Other people have a system of friends and family checking on them regularly by phone or in person.

For example, I met one woman who had neighbors that looked out their window from their house across the street to see if she raised her blinds by 8am and lowered her blinds by 8pm everyday. The plan was that the neighbors would check on her if they did not see her blinds move by the pre-arranged time.

Having a lockbox with a key to the house somewhere outside and giving the lockbox combination to the person checking on you is a great idea so that your door doesn’t have to get broken down and replaced, if you are unresponsive or if you have fallen and cannot get up.

Make an Emergency Plan

Regardless of what your emergency plan is, there needs to be an emergency plan in place. Even if you do not get injured from a fall, just the time that you spend lying on the floor can be devastating to your muscles.

Just by being stuck there on the floor, your muscles start to loose mass and break down, which can then increase the likelihood of future falls.

Being aware, planning accordingly and using assistive devices to stop falls can really make an impact on the quality of your life and can help you in the event of a not so great situation in the future.

Ask a Physical Therapist

If you are not sure what type of assistive device you might need, how to fit an assistive device to the proper height or how to use it when you walk, you can consult with a physical therapist.


This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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