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Feature:
Falls and Older Adults

Home Improvements Prevent Falls

toys on steps

Many state and local governments have education and/or home modification programs to help older people prevent falls. Check with your local health department, senior affairs office, or area agency on aging to see if there is a program near you. There are many changes you can make to your home that will help you avoid falls and ensure your safety.

"Safe-ty-fy" Your Home

Some Questions for Your Provider

  • Will my medicines make me sleepy, dizzy, or lightheaded?
  • What exercises should I do to make me stronger and prevent falls?
  • Should I use a cane or a walker?
  • How can I make my bathroom safer?
  • Should I use a shower chair and a raised toilet seat?
  • Do I need help bathing? Should I put a bed on the first floor and quit climbing the stairs altogether? Would a hospital bed be best for me?
  • What should I do if I fall?

In Stairways, Hallways, and Pathways

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs, and make sure they are tightly fastened. Hold on to the handrails when you use the stairs. If you must carry something up or down stairs, hold it in one hand and grip the handrail with the other. Don't let what you're carrying block your view of the steps.
  • Make sure there is good lighting with switches at the top and bottom of stairs and at each end of a hall. Remember to use the lights!
  • Keep stairs, halls, walkways, and floors free of clutter. Don't leave books, papers, clothes, and shoes lying in harm's way.
  • Firmly affix all carpets to the floor, so they won't slip. Put no-slip strips on tile and wooden floors.
  • Don't use throw rugs or small area rugs.

In Bathrooms and Powder Rooms

  • Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Remember to turn on nightlights.

In Your Bedroom

  • Put nightlights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Keep your telephone and a flashlight within reach.

In Other Living Areas

  • Run extension cords and telephone wires along walls and away from walking paths.
  • Tack down all carpets and large area rugs.
  • Arrange your furniture (especially low coffee tables) and other objects so they are not in your way when you walk.
  • Make sure sofas and chairs are the right height, easy to get in and out of.
  • Avoid walking on newly washed floors—they are slippery.
  • Keep items you use often within easy reach.
  • Never stand on a chair or table to reach something that's too high. Use a stepstool or stepladder instead, or a "reach stick." If you use a step stool, make sure it is steady and has a handrail on top. Have someone stand next to you.
  • Don't trip over your cat or dog. Know where your pet is before standing or walking.
  • Keep emergency numbers IN LARGE PRINT near each telephone.
Read More "Preventing Falls" Articles

Preventing Falls / Great Help for Older Adults / How Can Older Adults Prevent Falls? / Home Improvements Prevent Falls

Winter 2014 Issue: Volume 8 Number 4 Page 16-17