Each year, thousands of older Americans fall in their home. Many are seriously injured and some become disabled. Approximately one-third of the elder population over the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors suffer falls annually. Although alarming, these documented statistics are lower than the actual number since many incidents are
unreported by seniors.
Falls are often due to hazards that are easily overlooked, but easy to ﬁx. This list will help you identify and ﬁx those potential hazards in your home.
Look at the floor in each room. When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture? If so, ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
Do you have throw rugs on the floor? Remove the rugs or use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other items on the floor? Always keep objects off the floor.
Do you have to walk over or around wires or chords (like lamp, telephone, or extension cords)? You should coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you can’t trip over them. If needed, have an electrician install another outlet.
Stairs and Steps
Are there papers, shoes, books, or other items on the stairs? Pick up all items on the stairs and keep clear.
Has the stairway light bulb burnt out? Ask a friend or family member to change the bulb.
Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn? Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs.
Are some steps broken or uneven? Fix loose or uneven steps.
Are the handrails loose or broken? Is there a handrail on only one side of the stairs? Fix loose handrails or put in new ones. Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and are as long as the stairs.
Do you have only one light switch for your stairs (only at the top or at the bottom of the stairs)? Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. You can get light switches that glow.
Are often-used items on high shelves? Move items in your cabinets. Keep things you use often on the lower shelves at or around waist level.
Is your step stool unsteady? If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar for holding. Never use a chair as a step stool.
Is the tub or shower floor slippery? Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.
Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet? Hire a carpenter to install grab bars inside the tub and next to the toilet.
Is the light near the bed hard to reach? Place a lamp close to the bed where it is easy to reach.
Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? Install a night-light so you can see where you are walking. Some night-lights go on by themselves after dark.
Other Precautions to Avoid Falls
Exercise regularly. Exercise makes you stronger and improves your balance and coordination.
Request your doctor or pharmacist to look at all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines. Some can make you sleepy or dizzy.
Have your vision checked once a year by an eye doctor. Poor vision increases your risk of falling.