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  • Writer's pictureNikita Chand

Ambulation and Fall Prevention: Tips on how to walk safely with your patient


  • The winter season can still be a great time to get outside for fresh air and a stroll as long as fall and safety precautions are practiced. Check out the information below to how to safely walk with your patient and prevent falls.

  • Ambulating is another word used to describe walking with your patient. You may have to assist your client with walking inside or outside their home.

  • Ambulating from one room to another must be done safely to prevent injuries such as falls, head injury, hip fractures, shoulder dislocation, etc. It is important to help mobilize you patient safely.

  • Gentle daily walking is one of the best forms of exercise for all age groups. Research shows that walking can prevent the incidences of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. It also shows to help with mental health by elevating mood and alleviating depression. A minimum of 10 to 30 minutes of light walking is recommended daily. Gradually increase as your patients health status and endurance improves.

Tips on how to walk safely and prevent falls with your patient:

1. Protect your patient’s body: Apply non-slip socks or slippers, hip protectors, gait belt, compression stockings. Compression stocking should be applied in bed while patient is laying flat first thing in the morning. These stocking have been shown to help prevent orthostatic hypotension that can cause dizziness. They are also great at reducing swelling in the feet and lower legs (peripheral edema).

2. Optimize your patient’s sensory input: Apply hearing aids and prescription glasses. Ensure adequate lighting and that floors are cleared of clutter. Remove unnecessary mats and rugs that cause obstruction or tend to roll at the edges, as these are a major tripping hazard.

3. Use assistance devices: Have the cane, walker or wheelchair nearby and ready to use. Ensure these assistive devices are in working order before using them.

4. Additional Fall prevention devices: If your patient is able to use a Life line, ensure this device is applied during morning care. A Life Line is a simple push button that will alert a agency that will be connected immediately if the senior falls and is unable to get up on their own. If you are with your patient and they have a fall and unable to get up then you would most likely call 911 for assistance rather then the Life Line. Many times it is on a lanyard and it is not uncommon to see seniors wearing them all day long and even at night. Always ensure this is on your patient before you leave, as there unfortunately have been many cases were seniors have fallen and were stuck for long hours.

5. Walking strategies: When walking with your patient, always remember to Go Slow. Let them take the lead and be patient. You may notice shuffling of the feet, and that is okay. Do not try to hurry them along. Plan the day accordingly to accommodate the time it takes for the patient to walk. Make sure chairs are nearby in case the patient feels tired or busy.

* Pro tip – Always ask your patient if they are feeling unwell or dizzy before any mobilizing/ambulating. To decrease the chances of a fall, do not attempt to help mobilize them until the dizziness has subsided. Positional changes, such as from laying to sitting/standing, are a common reason for dizziness. Wait a few minutes and have them pump their legs back and forth, about 10 to 20 times, to help with blood flow back to the brain. If at any time your client reports feeling dizzy or you can sense they may fall, have them sit done immediately.

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