Here are a few helpful hints to reduce falls in and around your home.
It is important that you wear sensible shoes. Try to avoid high heels, slippers, and walking in your stocking feet. Here are a few more tips on how to buy and wear shoes to keep you safe:
- Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes since your size can change.
- Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
- Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles.
- Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied.
- Select footwear with fabric fasteners if you have trouble tying laces.
- Use a long-handled shoehorn if you have trouble putting on shoes.
- Shop in the men's department if you're a woman who can't find wide enough shoes.
- Always keep your toenails well trimmed.
You should also try to get rid of obstacles in your home that can be a tripping or slipping hazard. Here are a few suggestions:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing.
- Repair loose wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other household necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonskid floor wax.
- Sleep on a bed that's easy to get in and out of.
- Replace satiny sheets and comforters with less-slippery cotton or wool ones.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
Keep your home well lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
- Place a lamp near your bed, and use it when you get up to use the bathroom.
- Install easily accessible or glow-in-the-dark switches in room entrances.
- Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Create color contrasts between walls and floors, ideally with lighter colored carpets.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
Here are a few additional suggestions on how to modify your home to make it safe from slips and trips as bathrooms, stairways and hallways may be especially hazardous:
- Install grab handles inside and just outside your shower or bathtub.
- Mount a liquid soap dispenser in your shower.
- Replace glass shower enclosures with a non-shattering material.
- Use a raised toilet seat or one with armrests to stabilize yourself.
- Place a sturdy plastic seat in your tub if you can't lower yourself to the floor.
- Install handrails on both sides and across the entire length of stairways.
- Put nonslip treads on each bare-wood step.
- Remove raised doorway thresholds in all rooms.
All testing will take place at the UNL Dizziness and Balance Disorder Laboratory.Should I have a hearing test first?
Our facility recommends a hearing test within six months prior to all dizziness, balance or risk of falling testing. You can schedule your hearing evaluation with any of our skilled Audiologists by calling (402) 472-2071.I have had my balance assessed before. Do I need to bring anything from that appointment?
If you have had any previous dizziness, balance, or risk of falling testing, please bring these results with you to your appointment, or fax the results to (402) 472-3814.Will I be okay to drive after the assessment?
We suggest that you bring someone with you who can drive you home after the testing has been completed, especially if you are already unsteady or feeling dizzy.I'm currently taking medications. Is that a problem?
Certain medications may interfere with results of dizziness, balance, and risk of falling tests. We ask that you take only essential medications during the 2 days before your appointment. Examples of essential medications include: heart medicines, blood pressure medicines, diabetes medicines, seizure medicines, and psychiatric medicines.Is there anything I need to avoid prior to testing?
Any medications which may not be necessary. We also ask that you avoid the following for 48 hours before your test: alcoholic beverages, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, narcotics, antihistamines, medications that make you dizzy (examples are Antivert and Robinul) and over the counter cold or allergy medications. The idea is that we don't want you to take any medications that affect your inner ear system, or, the brain pathways that connect to your inner ear of balance. It makes sense that the more "pure" are the conditions of the test, the more we can say about the test results.Are there any alterations I need to make to my diet prior to testing?
Since many different foods and beverages can affect the results of this test, we ask that you do not eat anything after midnight the night before the morning of your test. If you are diabetic, you may eat a small meal (example: toast and juice) in the morning of your test.What kind of clothes do I need to wear the day of testing?
Any clothes that you would normally wear are fine. We only ask that you do not wear makeup or moisturizer.Does "vertigo" mean the same as "dizzy?"
"Vertigo" is a term reserved for a sense of motion when the body is really at rest, usually a spinning sensation like that experienced after getting off of a merry-go-found. "Dizziness" is a more general term used to describe other sensations like lightheadedness, giddiness, or general unsteadiness.What causes dizziness?
Dizziness can be caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain, hyperventilation, medication, anxiety, or-- most commonly-- inner ear disorders.Is dizziness the same for all people?
No. For some people it is lightheadedness. Some people feel faint. Some feel as if they are moving when they are not. Others feel a spinning sensation in which either they are doing the spinning or the world around them is spinning.I only get dizzy when I move my head quickly. Why?
The most common form of dizziness is called benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo, or BPPV, which is a spinning sensation that occurs only with certain head movements. This type of vertigo can often be treated and eliminated in just one 20-minute session using the "Canalith Repositioning Procedure," or CRP. Other types of inner ear disorders can cause symptoms of dizziness with head movements. A thorough evaluation by an Audiologist can help determine the cause of your symptoms.Is dizziness very common?
For people over the age of 60, dizziness is one of the most frequent reasons for physician visits and hospital admissions. Dizziness is actually the second most common complaint reported to a physician next to back pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, 90 million Americans (42% of the population) will complain of dizziness at least once in their lifetime.How does one determine if dizziness is due to an inner ear problem?
Dizziness is a symptom. Proper evaluation is required to determine its cause. Audiologists perform sophisticated examinations that provide important information about the cause of dizziness.Is there any treatment for dizziness?
Treatment for dizziness varies according to the diagnosis. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment options may include medication, changes in diet, physical therapy, or even surgery in the most severe cases. Dizziness associated with BPPV, as noted above, can often be eliminated in one 20-minute CRP treatment session.
If you are experiencing dizziness or feel that you are at risk of falling please call your doctor. Depending on your condition, your doctor may refer you to the UNL Dizziness and Balance Disorder Lab for a comprehensive assessment. For more information about our services, please contact Dr. Julie Honaker, Director of the UNL Dizziness and Balance Disorder Lab at (402) 472- 5493. Our services are covered by most medical insurances.
Below is a questionnaire used to assist in the scheduling of persons who come to the UNL Dizziness and Balance Disorder Laboratory. We request that you answer the questions to the best of your ability and return the form to our office. If you have any comments that might help us, please write a note in the margin. The purpose of the questionnaire is to make your visit to our clinic more efficient. The information that you provide will assist us in scheduling your appointment, and avoiding duplication of previously performed dizziness, balance, or risk of falling testing. In addition to completing the attached questionnaire, we ask that you review these instructions regarding dizziness, balance, and risk of falling testing in our facility.Patient Leter and Case History