Falling and fall prevention is an increasingly important subject for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. The CDC also reports that in the United States alone, an older adult dies from falling every 20 minutes.
The good news is that falling is preventable. There are steps you can take right now to make your home and surroundings safer. This guide will provide you with practical tips on how to prevent falls in and around your home.
1. Tape Down Your Rugs
Rugs, floor mats, and hallway runners are wonderful to have around the house. However, they can be trip hazards. Even if you’ve never had a problem with your rugs and floor mats before, now is the time to get those floor coverings secured.
You can purchase double-sided tape designed specifically to hold down rugs and floor mats. Swing by the local hardware store to pick some up today.
2. Do You Really Need a Coffee Table?
It’s nice to have a little table in front of the sofa. But, is it necessary? Could you get by with an extra side table next to your armchair?
The problem with coffee tables is that they are often quite low to the ground. Many times, tables like this are the causes of trips and tumbles. If you must have one, make doubly sure that it doesn’t block any natural walkways in your home. However, if you can manage without it, even better. Opt for a couple of taller, side tables at each end of your couch.
3. Install Nonslip Mats in Your Shower and Bath
Each year, millions of folks fall while they are in the shower. For just a couple of dollars, you can purchase a set of self-adhesive stickers for the bottom of your tub or shower. For a bit more money, you can get a nonstick mat. Either product will work well to keep you from slipping once the shower floor gets wet.
4. Put a Sturdy Chair Inside the Shower
It’s quite helpful to have a chair or stool inside the shower with you. Any sturdy, waterproof chair will do. You can also purchase chairs made specifically for the shower. Having one hand on the chair while you’re soaping up can prevent a painful slip and fall.
5. Keep Shampoo, Soap and Other Toiletries in an Easy-to-Reach Shower Caddy
The closer and more accessible your shower products are, the better. You don’t want to be reaching, bending or standing on your tip-toes while you’re in the slipperiest place in your house. Keep all of your necessities at arm’s reach for the best results.
6. Have a Shower Rail Installed
A shower rail or grab bar is an excellent and useful addition to your bathroom. If you’ve ever had a fall in the shower, you know that having something sturdy to grab onto is exactly what you need to avoid injuring yourself. A shower rail is an ideal addition to help you stay upright.
7. Consider Having a Walk-in Tub Installed
A complete bathroom renovation may not be in the budget, but if it is, a walk-in tub is a way to go. They are designed perfectly for people who want to enjoy a bath but can’t get down low into a tub and back up out of one.
8. Pick Up a Raised Toilet Seat
You may have never considered it, but a toilet seat riser with side handles is one bathroom addition that is worth every penny. When you’ve got to use the restroom, sometimes you’ve got to get situated in a hurry. Falls often occur when you’re rushing. A raised toilet seat is exactly what you need if getting up and down from the commode is somewhat difficult.
9. Clear Up the Clutter Through High-traffic Areas
Start at the front door and walk to every room in your home. If there is anything on the floor that impedes your path, move it or put it away. Eliminate furniture or any items that are shorter than knee-level. Make sure all of your main pathways are cleared of clutter. If you can afford it, hire someone to come in every couple of weeks to help keep things neat and tidy.
10. Wear Shoes at Home
What?! Shoes in the house? Yes. Buy a pair of house sneakers. They don’t have to be fancy, just comfortable and slip-resistant. Wear these shoes only in the house so that they stay clean and you aren’t tracking in dirt from outside. Wearing rubber-soled shoes will prevent falls inside your home.
11. Avoid Wearing Loose-fitting Clothing
Flowing bathrobes and floral mumus are comfortable and lovely, but they can get caught on furniture or in doorways easily and cause falls. Opt for more fitted clothing around the house.
12. Have Your Eyes Checked Regularly
Annual eye exams are imperative for multiple reasons. If you want to avoid falling, it’s important that you’re able to see what’s in front of you clearly. Make sure to go in once a year to have your vision tested and corrected if necessary.
13. Use a Walker or Cane
If getting around the house is becoming more difficult, consider picking up a cane or walker to keep near your favorite chair or by the bed. Just a little help from a walker can make a big difference in your ability to get up easily from your seat or sit back down again.
14. Have a Stair Rail Installed
If you live in a two-story home, and you have to navigate stairs, make sure you have a sturdy stair rail. Then, make sure you hold onto it while you’re walking up and down the stairs. If you already have a stair rail, check to make sure it is in good shape and will hold your weight when you pull against it.
15. Live on One Floor
It may not be an option but, if it is, choose to live in a one-story home. If there’s no option to live in a single-story house, do your best to conduct most of your daily business on one floor of your home. Go to the second floor in the evening and retire there for the night. Take care of anything you need to go upstairs in the evening or first thing in the morning. Then, head downstairs for the day. The less often you have to navigate the stairs, the less chance you have of falling on the stairs.
16. Keep Your Home Well-lit
Spring for a few extra lamps to brighten up your home. If you have light bulbs that need to be replaced, have a neighbor or friend help you replace them. Keep a light on inside if you are gone and plan to return at night. Make sure you turn your porch lights on each evening — even if you don’t plan to go outside. You may need to go out unexpectedly, and a light will help to ensure you don’t fall.
17. Store Often Used Items at Eye Level
Items around the home that you need to use daily should be stored where they are easy to reach. It may take some rearranging. However, avoid storing items where you will have to use a stool or reach up high to access them. Many falls occur while people are climbing up to reach things stored in high cabinets or on top of the refrigerator.
18. Keep Flashlights Handy
Pick up a few extra flashlights and store one in each room. In case of a power outage, you’ll want to be prepared. It’s much easier to avoid a fall in the dark if you can light your path.
The more fit you are, the less likely you are to fall and injure yourself. Take brisk walks in the morning. Practice your balance — anytime you have the opportunity, walk a straight line. If you’re walking on a sidewalk, try and walk only on the right edge for a few minutes. Then, switch to walking just on the left edge in a straight line. Stand on one leg for several seconds while you’re brushing your teeth at night. Use the countertop for balance if you need it. Work on your balance a little each day. That will help you avoid falling.
20. Walk in the Grass
If it has been snowing, raining or if there is any chance of ice on the sidewalk, walk in the grass instead. Falling on cement can be fatal. Don’t take any chances.
21. Take Your Time
Finally, slow down. Take your time when walking from place to place in your home or anywhere else. Obviously, there are times when we need to hurry. But, most often, it’s best to slow your roll. A fall will slow you down even more than taking a few extra seconds to plant your feet firmly where you need to go.
Take Fall Prevention Seriously
It may not be the most fun subject, but preventing falls can save your life. It’s just as important as any other lifesaving measure you may take. Set aside a few minutes today to assess your home and surroundings for trip hazards, areas where you need extra help, too much clutter and poorly lit rooms.
For help preventing falls, check out the 14-Day Fall Prevention Quick Start Program, here!
Older adult falls. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/ falls/index.html