2 posts tagged “fall prevention”

Parkinson’s Freezing Triggers and Fall Prevention

Posted 12 months ago by

Gait freezing and falls are common among people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Take a closer look at patients’ experiences, common triggers of freezing and tips that may help prevent falls.

What is known about freezing and falls?

Researchers and movement experts have been studying gait freezing in people with PD for several decades. The exact cause of freezing is unknown, but experts believe it’s caused by PD’s effects on parts of the brain that control motor movement, such as the basal ganglia or part of the right side of the brain.

Common triggers of gait freezing may include:

  • Crowded environments or tight spaces
  • Turning corners, going around furniture or objects, or changing direction
  • Entering doorways, crossing over thresholds (especially from outdoors to inside), or changes in flooring (for example, from tile or wood to carpet)
  • Distraction or multi-tasking, such as walking and talking or carrying objects
  • Anxiety (initial research shows that this common symptom in people with PD may play a role in freezing, but further studies are needed)

Some tips and tricks may help “thaw” episodes of freezing (but every person is different, so talk with a movement specialist or physical therapist about what might work for you):

  • Visual cues — Giving yourself a visual hint may help your brain (and feet) know where to step, according to movement disorder specialists at the University of Florida Health. Visual cues include lasers on canes and U-step walkers, placing lines of tape on the floor, and stepping over the foot of another person . Some Dutch researchers are even working on laser sneakers for people with PD.
  • Auditory cues — Listening to music, counting out loud (like “1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3…”) or using a metronome (or metronome app) can give your brain and body a rhythm to step to (check out this blog post about how Pamela Quinn, a professional dancer with PD, uses auditory cues to walk).
  • Practicing pivoting or changing direction — Check out this video, for example.
  • Check out these additional fall prevention tips — take note of potential household hazards, such as electrical cords, throw rugs or clutter on the floor.
  • Talk with your doctor about any freezing or falls you’ve experienced.Besides freezing, other factors that may cause falls include delayed reaction time, rigidity, bradykinesia, poor balance and even dehydration.

Taking your medication on time and working with your doctor to reduce “off” times is also important in preventing freezing.

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Home Safety Month: Pointers for “aging in place”

Posted June 29th, 2018 by

June is National Home Safety Month and there’s a buzz around “aging in place,” so we’ve gathered tips and products that can help today’s (stylish) older adults avoid falls and live well at home for years to come.

A top home-safety goal: Fall prevention

Falls are a growing problem when it comes to home safety, as many older adults opt to live independently at home for as long as possible.

“Although many seniors are more active and living longer, more than 1 in 4 report falling,” according to the CDC. “Emergency departments treat over 3 million older Americans for falls each year while direct medical expenses add up to more than $31 billion annually.”

(When you join PatientsLikeMe, you can report and track falls as a symptom on your profile and see what others have said about falls and fall prevention here.)

Because falls can cause severe injury and loss of independence, the CDC encourages you to talk openly with your healthcare provider(s) about them as soon as possible, even if you don’t get injured. They can do a screening on your future fall risk and help address balance or vision problems, medication side effects and other factors.

Preventing falls isn’t the only way you can make your house more safe. It may be worth considering installing something like a home security camera in order to deter any burglars or criminals in your area.

Home safety pointers

The CDC offers a free brochure called “Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults.” And here are the main tips, in a nutshell:

  • Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside of your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

An expert voice on “aging in place”

The New York Times recently published an interview with Linda Shrager, the author of a new book called “Age in Place” and an occupational therapist with almost 40 years of experience.

“It’s cheaper to stay in your home, even if you have to make some renovations and get an aide a few days a week to help,” Shrager says. “It’s money well spent and a lot cheaper than assisted living. But it’s important not to wait until there’s a crisis — a parent falls and breaks her hip.”

A few of her suggestions that stand out:

  • When you declutter, don’t keep a “maybe” pile of things that’ll just collect dust
  • Use stools that don’t fold
  • Cook with a toaster or microwave (since stoves or ovens come with more hazards)
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom — one of the most hazardous rooms in the house

Safety can be stylish

Fortunately, products geared toward home safety have become more attractive in recent years. Here are a few trends and products we’ve spotted related to modern home safety:

Home modifications can get pricy, so check out this list of grants and resources from Home Advisor.

Have you had a fall lately? Any questions, thoughts or tips on home safety you’d like to chat about with the community? Join PatientsLikeMe and this forum discussion today!

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