Prevent Falls in the Home

January 15, 2017 | Patricia Wuest

Follow our checklist to avoid serious injury from a fall.

According to the National Council on Aging, more than 75 percent of older adult falls happen in or near the home. “Every year, thousands of older adults fall and hurt themselves,” says webmd.com. “Falls are one of the main causes of injury and loss of independence in people ages 65 and older.”

There are many reasons older people fall, and many different places where seniors can fall, trip or lose their balance. You can trip on uneven flooring or when stepping out of a tub. You could fall after getting dizzy from taking medicine. As we age, some falls may be due to muscle weakness or may be related to the results of a stroke.

At least in your own home you can take steps to minimize the risk of falling. Use our checklist to make some easy changes to help you avoid this common, and scary, accident.

  • Stand slowly. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy when you stand up quickly, rise slowly from your bed or chair. Count slowly to 10 when you first wake in the morning, and then sit up. After you stand up, stay still for a few seconds before you move. See your doctor to make sure it’s not related to an illness or condition that can be treated.
  • Make sure the steps into your home are not broken or uneven. Maintain or add entryway lights so you can see where you are stepping.
  • Move your most commonly used items within reach, especially in the kitchen. Never stand on chairs to get things you can’t reach. Ask a family member or friend to get those things you can’t reach easily.
  • Remove tripping hazards. Replace scatter rugs with rubber-backed rugs. Make sure your rugs lay completely flat.
  • Avoid walking on wet floors. Kitchen and bathroom floors can be slippery and very dangerous when wet. When you mop the kitchen or bathroom floor, avoid walking on it until it’s thoroughly dry.
  • Keep steps clutter-free. Give yourself a clear path up and down by making sure things like shoes and books are stored elsewhere.
  • Keep hallways clear, especially the path from your bed to the bathroom. Make sure it is well lit and clutter free. Use nightlights so you can see where you’re walking.
  • Add a non-slip rubber mat to the shower or tub. Install grab bars by the toilet and tub. Grab bars should be installed by a professional to make sure they are at the correct levels and properly anchored to the walls.
  • Keep your bones strong. Talk to your doctor to be sure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium. If you do fall, strong bones will not break as easily.

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