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Recently, Jimmy Carter fell as he was leaving his home in Georgia and broke his hip. According to a statement, he had surgery to repair the fracture and is recovering despite joking that he’s missing out on some of his favorite activities.
Although President Carter is poking fun at his situation, a hip fracture is a painful condition. Fortunately, there are ways to safeguard against falls at home through behavior changes as well as healthy habits you can adopt that could help prevent injury.
It’s important that you know how to protect yourself from a fall like the one President Carter experienced and what to expect if you do have an accident.
Ways to Fall-Proof Your Home
Studies have shown kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, and, perhaps most of all, bathrooms are some of the most fall-prone areas of a home.
By themselves, each of these actions might seem small. But together, these steps add up:
- Keep floors free of wires, cords, clutter and throw rugs.
- Ensure the carpet is securely fastened to the floor and that large area rugs have skid-proof backing underneath them.
- Install grab bars inside and outside the bathtub and shower and beside the toilet.
- Clean up spills immediately, especially in bathrooms and other areas with slick flooring.
- Make sure stairwells are well-lit and have sturdy handrails installed on both sides.
- Use a cordless phone or cellphone so there is one less cord to trip over and the phone can always be near you.
Staying Safe on the Go
Though you can’t fall-proof the outside world like you can your home, there are still steps you can take to stay on your feet when you leave the house.
Here are several:
- Wear shoes with low heels and rubber soles.
- Use handrails on stairs, escalators and inclines.
- Clear leaves, snow, ice, and clutter from sidewalks, driveways, porches and decks.
- Slow down and step carefully when going up or down curbs.
- Carry personal items in a shoulder bag, small backpack, or fanny pack to keep hands free to grasp railings.
- Use a cane or walker for a steady gait.
Build Your Balance
Becoming steadier on your feet can help you prevent falls no matter where you are.
Work with a physical therapist to build your balance through exercise techniques. You can also incorporate active hobbies like gardening into your routine to stay in better shape as you age.
What If You Fall?
While you can lower your chances of a fall, it can still happen despite your best efforts. But not all falls are created equal, and there are ways to reduce your risk of getting hurt if you do fall.
First, don’t tense up as you fall. Instead, let your body slump and roll, helping to spread out the impact over your body.
It’s better to fall forward or backward (onto your seat) rather than to the side. A sideways tumble can raise the chances you’ll break a hip.
If you’ve fallen, don’t worry about trying to get up immediately. Lie still until you’re calmer, then decide whether you’re hurt — if you are, getting up too soon could make it worse.
If you can get up on your own, roll onto your side and take another break. Then turn onto your hands and knees and crawl to a chair. Put your hands on the seat and, with one knee on the floor, slide the other foot forward and plant it on the ground. Slowly rise and sit in the chair.
After taking a spill, call 9-1-1 and ask to be transported to your local AdventHealth hospital.
What If You’re Injured?
If you’re in pain, tell the staff right away.
You will be sent for diagnostic tests using the most advanced technology to determine the cause.
If it’s your hip that’s the issue, like President Carter experienced, the staff may perform:
- Blood Tests
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scans
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans
- Physical Exam
Be sure to tell us exactly where and how it hurts so that you get a precise diagnosis and can begin treatment to get on the path to wellness quickly.
Hip Treatment Options
Like President Carter, you’ll want to get back to your lifestyle as soon as possible. We want that for you, too. Depending on the nature of your injury, there are many different advanced, minimally invasive surgeries that could work for you like:
- Anterior Hip Replacement
- Total Hip Replacement Surgery
- Partial Hip Replacement
- Fracture Fixation
They all have a high success rate and a short recovery time, which means our skilled surgeons will have you back on your feet, and back to your normal routine, quickly.
Find Experts Close to Home
We believe fall prevention is a part of whole-person care. It helps preserve your independence while building the confidence to stay active. When a health problem can’t wait, our urgent care centers and emergency departments offer convenient, on-demand care.