Falls are the primary cause of accidents in people over the age of 65 and also the main cause of serious injuries and accidental deaths in older people. Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within 6 months. Even older people who appear strong and healthy can fall. If an older person falls and is injured, their ability to live independently can be temporarily or permanently affected.
- Remove clutter that you can trip over (like books, papers, clothes, shoes).
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
- Arrange furniture so that it’s easy to walk around it.
- Keep electrical and telephone cords out of the way.
- Store items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
- Keep the path from bed to bathroom clear and install a nightlight.
- Install grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower. Don’t use the soap or towel holdeer for a grab bar or handrail.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
Here are some safety tips for stairs, which are a particularly high-risk area for falls:
- Check carpeting to make sure it is firmly attached along stairs.
- Avoid placing throw rugs or scatter rugs at the top of bottom of stairways.
- Install handrails on both sides of the stairways.
- Be sure stairways have high-wattage lighting. Install on/off switches at both the
top and bottom of stairs.
- Watch out for single steps; they are easy to overlook.
- Outside, repair cracks and rough edges in sidewalks and driveways.
In addition to fall-proofing their homes, seniors can also take a few steps to fall-proof themselves:
- Pay attention to where you are walking and don’t hurry.
- Avoid standing up too quickly from a seated position.
- Have an annual eye exam.
- Don’t carry large loads the obscure your line of sight.
- Wear “sensible shoes” – both inside and outside the house.
- Be aware of medications you are taking that might affect balance or cause
- Limit intake of alcohol as it may interact with medications.
- Exercise regularly to preserve bone density and muscle strength.
- Use a cane or walker if needed.
Want to learn more about preventing falls in the home? Check these resources: