Preventing Falls: Staying Safe in Your Home

Preventing Falls: Staying Safe in Your Home

Safety and independence are important to many seniors. We wanted to share an article from LeadingAge.org to help you accomplish that by preparing yourself and your home from events that could cause falls. Here are some tips from that article:

  • Rugs are always a potential tripping hazard. If you have a walker, cane, crutches, or shoe heels, they can easily catch on the edges or corners, and the results can be painful.
    • Tip: Tapping the rugs down can help, but removing the rug complete is the safest way to go.
  • Do you have piles of books, half-finished projects, or laundry lying around? Make sure these are all cleared from floors and stairways.
    • Tip: Have a small, lightweight, handled basket — one at the top and one at the bottom – of your stairway. When you need to bring something upstairs or downstairs, put it in the basket, and slide the handle over your arm. This leaves your other hand free to grab the stair rail.
  • Check the handrails on your stairs. How sturdy are they? If you think they need to be fixed, be sure to call a professional.
    • Tip: Even if you don’t think you will use them now, at some point you’ll appreciate having the option of grab bars in bathrooms — in the shower and tub, as well as near the toilet.
  • Soapy water is extremely slippery, especially on porcelain or tile.
    • Tip: Install rubber mats or treads in tubs and showers, or anywhere that soapy water could splash and create a hazard.
  • Make sure wires, cords, and cables run along walls, not across walkways.
    • Tip: Use electrical tape or special staples to secure cords against baseboards. Don’t run cords under rugs or carpeting — this may prevent tripping, but it can be a fire hazard.
  • Are the items you use most often in the kitchen easily to reach? If not, rearrange things so they are on shelves that are most accessible to you. If you have cabinets under your kitchen counters, consider installing pullout, sliding shelves to make items more viewable and accessible.
    • Tip: Keep a stepladder nearby for those occasions when you do need to reach a higher shelf. Use a sturdy, level stepladder that has rubber grips on the feet and a stepping area wide enough to make you feel comfortable.
  • Is your house well lit? Have you started using brighter bulbs in hallways and stairwells?
    • Tip: Leave hall lights or bathroom lights on in preparation for nighttime trips. You may pay a few cents more on your electric bill, but you’ll save the cost of a midnight ambulance ride!

Now that your home is fall-proof, here are a few tips to make sure your health won’t cause a fall.

  • Make an appointment with your doctor. You can go over the medications you are taking, talk about any feelings of unsteadiness or being off balance, and ask if any of your current health conditions could unsteadiness.
  • Keep moving! Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. Mayo Clinic published an article that said, “With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.”
  • Review your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. Shoes like high heels, slippers and shoes with slick soles have a greater risk of unbalance. So can walking in your stocking feet! Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.

We want you to stay safe and independent in your home longer. These few steps to fall-proof yourself and your home will help do just that. If you have questions on other ways to improve your balance or prevent falls, contact Sue Schmitt, Director of Post-Acute Care, at sschmitt@methwick.org.