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Most falls occur in the home. Older adults especially need to be careful to avoid falls. This information offers guidance on how to reduce your risk of falls at home.
Make your home safe
Take these steps to protect yourself from falls in each area of your home.
- Make sure that any steps and ramps have a non-slip surface and a sturdy hand rail.
- Be aware of uneven ground and walkways. Always watch your step.
- Keep paths free of clutter, snow, ice and leaves.
- If possible, install lights that turn on when they detect motion or when it gets dark.
Stairs and steps:
- Ensure that stairs are well lit.
- Install handrails on all stairways and steps, even if there are only one or two steps to navigate.
- Do not leave objects and clutter on the stairs.
- Use non-slip strips or a rubber bath mat in the tub or shower.
- Inquire about a bathtub bench or shower chair in the tub or shower, so you can sit safely while you bathe.
- Install grab bars securely (only in the studs in the wall) on and/or beside the tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- DO NOT hold onto towel racks or soap dishes; they will not be able to support your weight.
- Install a hand-held shower so you can bathe comfortably while you sit.
- Inquire about a raised toilet seat. Getting on and off the toilet will be much easier.
- Keep your linens, towels and other daily supplies between waist and eye level. Avoid bending and reaching whenever possible.
- Remove throw rugs and floor mats that do not have a skid proof backing.
- Keep the floor dry.
- Use a nightlight in the bathroom.
Living room, bedrooms and hallways:
- Store dishes, pots and pans that you use most often between waist and eye level. Avoid bending and reaching whenever possible.
- Obtain devices to assist with opening jars, cans, etc.
- Mop up spills right away.
- Remove all throw rugs (do not use scatter or decorative rugs). Tack down loose ends on carpet.
- Keep extension cords and telephone cords out of walking areas.
- Keep rooms and hallways free of clutter.
- Watch for small pets that can get under foot.
- Have proper lighting in each room.
- Keep a night light in the bedroom and hallway.
- Keep the phone and your eyeglasses within easy reach of your bed.
- Tuck the corners of the bedspread under the corners of the mattress or bed.
- Sit while you get dressed.
- Avoid low, over-stuffed furniture. Low furniture causes falls because it is hard to get in and out of low furniture.
- Use chairs with arms so you have something to support you.
- Wear good support shoes with non-skid soles both indoors and outdoors.
- Wear outdoor footwear appropriate to the weather.
- Do not wear knit socks or slippers around the house as they are the cause of many falls.
Get proper health care:
- Put a basket on your walker to carry things. This keeps your hands free to move the walker.
- Consult with a professional when first obtaining your walker so that it is appropriately adjusted to meet your needs.
This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have.
- Ask your doctor about possible side effects of all medications you take. Medication side effects are a common cause of falls.
- See your doctor if you have dizzy spells. Dizziness can make you lose your balance and fall.
- Take good care of your feet. If you have foot pain, discomfort, loss of feeling, or large thick nails or corns, see your doctor.
- If your doctor says you need a cane or walker, use it. It will help you keep your balance. Make sure the cane or walker is specifically fitted for your use, including size and height.
- Have your vision checked. Poor vision leads to falls.
- Get regular physical exams. Keep your medical appointments, and follow your doctor’s advice.