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Take these steps to prevent falls at home

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Fall prevention is important for the well-being of older adults. Taking these steps can make sure they’re well prepared and well protected.

A fall at home can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially for older people. It can result in an unexpected hospital stay and make activities more difficult — even daunting. That’s why it’s important to protect older adults by taking steps to minimize the risk of falls in the home.

Download our FREE fall prevention checklist >

The risk of falls at home

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one out of four older people falls each year, and one out of five of those falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.

The CDC says many risk factors contribute to falling, and some can be modified to help prevent falls:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, or over-the-counter medicines that can affect balance
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers, such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs, or clutter that can be tripped over

How to start preventing falls at home

It may seem overwhelming to decrease the risk for falls, but you can ensure you’re well protected by using a simple process — start at the front entrance of the house and go room by room, noting potential ways to prevent falls along the way. Ask questions like: Are the stairs even and wide enough to offer adequate support?

You can also take these steps for preventing falls at home:

  1. Check that every entrance to the home is adequately lit. Motion-sensor lighting will automatically illuminate areas where falls can occur.
  2. Situate a small table near the entrance to the home so there’s a place to set down shopping bags or other items.
  3. Place items, such as dishes, food, toiletries, and medications, easily within reach in each room.
  4. Look for tripping hazards that can lead to falls, like rug edges sticking up, exposed cords, or narrow walking spaces between furniture. Remember to place rubber backs on rugs to stop slippage.
  5. Eliminate as much clutter as possible throughout the home, especially in hallways.
  6. Examine stairs for proper lighting and potential hazards. 
  7. Place tape in a contrasting color on each step so it’s easy to see where one step ends and another begins. If your stairs are slippery, a carpet runner, rubber tread covers, or a paint with sand in it to give a nonskid surface would be a safety upgrade.
  8. Consider installing a second handrail on stairs for stability on both walls.
  9. Clear the path from the bed to the bathroom.
  10. Add night-lights to easily find the bathroom at night.
  11. Install a rail on the bed, especially if dizziness between lying to sitting or sitting to standing is a problem.
  12. Place a rubber mat on the bottom of the bathtub or shower.
  13. Install a rail in the bathtub or shower. Consider using a shower chair and a handheld shower nozzle.
  14. Install a grab bar by the toilet or attach a raised seat with handles to the toilet to assist with sitting and standing.
  15. Wear sensible footwear and properly fitting clothing that won’t drag on the floor around the house.
  16. Eliminate the need to go upstairs repeatedly throughout the day by keeping all daily activities on the first level. 
  17. If possible, relocate to a home without stairs to truly make senior fall prevention a priority.

Download our FREE fall prevention checklist >

Other fall prevention steps

Aside from adjustments to your home, you can: 

  • Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist if you notice that your vision, balance, or other health conditions are making getting around difficult. You may need to adjust medications you’re taking to think clearer and experience less dizziness. 
  • Place a phone or medical alert device nearby at all times, so if a fall does occur, help can be contacted immediately.
  • Ask for support. A caregiver or hired help can do risky activities, like accessing items on high shelves, cleaning the house, or assisting with yard work. Tell a caregiver if you are feeling fearful about falling, so they can decrease your risk of falls at home, and you can feel safe where you live. Likewise, if a caregiver suggests you may need more assistance with everyday activities, be open to their feedback. Remember, they’re trying to help you continue to lead the healthy, active lifestyle you love. 

Photo credit: iStock

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