National Institute on Health's Tips to “Fall Proof” Your Home
by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.February 29, 2016
Six out of every ten falls happen at home, where we spend much of our time and tend to move around without thinking about our safety. Many falls could be prevented by making simple changes in your living areas, as well as personal and lifestyle changes.
Remove anything that could cause you to trip or slipwhile walking – such as clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords, rugs or slick floors.
Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely. Also remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.
Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.
Put non-slip strips on floors and steps. Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your bathtub or shower, as well. You can buy these items at a home center or hardware store.
Avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away. Use only non-skid wax on waxed floors at home.
Be careful when walking outdoors, and avoid going out alone on ice or snow.
Ask someone to spread sand or salt on icy surfaces. Be sure to wear boots with good traction if you must go out when it snows. Better yet, don't take chances walking on icy or slippery surfaces.
Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways.
Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.
Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.
Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other. When you're carrying something, be sure you can see where your feet are stepping.
Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help you avoid falls, too. Have grab bars installed, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower. Be sure the grab bars are securely attached to the wall.
Rearrange often-used items in your home to make them more accessible. Store food boxes, cans, dishes, clothing, and other everyday items within easy reach. This simple change could prevent a fall that might come from standing on a stool to get to an item.
If you have fallen, your doctor might suggest that an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or nurse visit your home. These health care providers can assess your home's safety and advise you about making changes to prevent falls.
*Note: Fall prevention efforts can reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers and older homeowners can become knowledgeable about what needs to be done to make homes as fall-proof as possible. Check here often and search for product ideas that can make you safer in your home!
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