Parkinson's Disease

Steady On Your Feet

If you’ve fallen lately, you’re not alone. More than 11 million people over the age of 65 fall every year — that’s 1 of every 3 senior citizens. People with Parkinson’s disease are especially likely to be among this group because the illness can affect their balance, posture, and the way they move. Falls can be a serious problem — they are a major cause of injury, restricted mobility, and loss of independence.

The good news is that many falls can be prevented. The most important step you can take to prevent falls is to maintain as much strength and coordination as possible by following your doctor’s instructions on taking your medications, eating properly, and exercising. The next step is to look around your home for hazards that could lead to a fall, and correct them. Here are some suggestions for creating a safer home environment:

elderly woman falling in bathroom because slippery surfaces

In the bathroom:

  • Use grab bars to get into and out of the tub
  • Use a bath chair or stool in the shower
  • Don’t use throw rugs or wax on the bathroom floor
  • Use a raised toilet seat with arm rails
  • Buy soap on a rope, or put a bar of soap in a nylon stocking with one end tied to a towel bar

In the kitchen:

  • Use a long-handled sponge/mop to wipe up spills
  • Keep your floors smooth but not slippery
  • Store your often-used supplies in easy-to-reach cabinets

Throughout your home:

  • Be sure that stairwells are well lit; consider nightlights for hallways and bathrooms
  • Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes with nonskid soles; don’t walk around in socks, slippers, or stockings on bare floors
  • Keep rooms and hallways free of clutter
  • Make sure carpets, including those on stairs, have skidproof backing or are tacked to the floor

Above all, use common sense. If bending throws you off balance, try to avoid picking things up. If you are unsteady outdoors, use a cane to negotiate sidewalk cracks and curbs. If you fall but do not injure yourself, don’t assume that you must restrict your activities. Too little activity can cause you to lose strength and coordination, putting you at greater risk for another fall. Instead, talk to your doctor about these and other steps you can take to reduce your risk of a more serious fall.

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