Safety-Proofing Your Kitchen to Prevent Osteoporotic Fractures
One of the things we are told by our doctors when first diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis is to NOT fall. Well, that’s easier said than done since many fractures occur without a major injury. If you’ve had a fragility fracture, you know that a sneeze, cough, hug, bending forward and stretching to reach something out of your grasp, can cause a spinal or rib fracture.
Follow these suggestions to declutter your kitchen and strategically place the items you use often in a place that doesn’t require twisting or stretching to retrieve.
Cabinets should be arranged so that the most used items are near the front of the shelf and on a shelf that is within arm’s reach and at eye level.
Use a step stool or cabinet to place one foot on when doing dishes. Having your knee bent helps to alleviate the pressure on your spine when you are standing in a stationary position. In this position you’ll get less tired and this should prevent a fracture due to fatigue. If you must bend forward, keep your knees bent, spine erect and don’t round from the shoulders; this will help to protect your spine from fractures.
Heavy objects should not be on the bottom shelf of your cabinet. When we bend forward we are putting our spine at risk from bending and also from lifting a heavy object that could cause an injury. Instead, place these heavier items at eye level so you don’t need to reach from a low place to retrieve it.
Clutter can cause problems as well since it makes finding things more difficult. Keep your counter tops free of this so an accident doesn’t happen from shuffling through all that is sitting out.
Your refrigerator should be organized in much the same way as your cabinets. Keep the most often used items at eye level and in the front of the shelf, and put the things you use less frequently on the higher shelves. If the item is heavy, keeping it at eye level will assist in lifting it since you aren’t doing any forward bends, stretching or lifting from a low position.
Use a Reach-It to retrieve items that you must store above your head. Get a good quality Reach-It that can handle heavy objects without falling out of the Reach-Its grasp. You can also use this to get pots and pans that may be in the back of the cabinet or similar locations that could cause a fracture when bending down for it. Reach-its are great for retrieving wet and dry clothes from the washer and dryer.
Wipe up spills as soon as they happen to protect yourself from injury. A wet spot is really dangerous, so don’t let it sit too long.
Fragility fractures can happen doing most anything if you have bone loss. I personally sustained one from putting on a fitted sheet, so be extra careful and always bend your knees, or squat to reach an area near the floor.
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Pam is a patient educator and digital health writer who has worked for Remedy Health Media on their osteoporosis web site since 2008. Pam is also a group leader and moderator with the National Osteoporosis Foundation Inspire online community since 2012, answering questions and guiding members who are newly diagnosed with bone loss.
Pam wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Osteoporosis.