By Dr. Matthew Seldinie
Dizziness can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. But today, millions of Americans, especially our senior population are finding themselves sidelined at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As trying as that may be for many Americans, it is a great time to take inventory of a home and ensure it meets some simple safety standards to help avoid unwanted injury due to a fall. While audiologists, vestibular therapists, and other associated vestibular specialists are well equipped to assess the balance system, you are the most well-equipped to assess your home and ensure it is a safe place to live. This is especially important because decreased physical activity is a real concern since social visits with friends and family are less frequent. Fall-proofing your home may certainly enhance your confidence and sense of security knowing you have executed safety measures to help reduce the risk of falling and injury.
According to guidance from the Vestibular Disorders Association, we recommend completing a 3-Zone Home Safety Assessment. This includes a simple survey of the inside and outside of your home.
Zone 1: Eye Level – Walk around your home focusing on anything and everything eye level and above. Is everything visually accessible during daytime and mostly during nighttime? If power was lost what would you be able to see/notice? What important devices are accessible overhead without needing to climb?
Zone 2: Hands and Seat Level – This is a walk-and-stop zone where you’ll take breaks every 5-7 feet. Every time you stop, imagine what would happen in that spot if you ended up feeling dizzy and started to fall or needed to take quick seat. What is close to grab onto for stability? A chair without wheels?
Zone 3: Ground Level – Make sure you have a clear path in every room. Is there any clutter on the floor? Ensure decorative rugs and floor pieces are not tripping hazards by keeping them flat and out of common walking areas. As a suggestion, firm floors or low pile and minimal padding carpet are best to walk on. Thicker flooring may cause unsteadiness. Outside, check for uneven surfaces on common walking paths. Check for sloping surfaces and if necessary consider adding handrails.
There are many other useful and helpful suggestions to ensure confidence when walking around your home. This initial Home Safety Assessment is intended to help jumpstart your thoughts on improving safety, security, and confidence while at home.
If you have issues with dizziness or unsteadiness please discuss this with your audiologist before you have a fall.
Hearing Partners of South Florida
Delray- 561-638-6530 Boynton Beach – 561-736-6002 Jupiter – 561-888-7260