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Aging Well: Making Your Home Fall-Proof

Aging Well: Making Your Home Fall-Proof

Introduction

Getting around your home safely can be a challenge if you have injuries or health problems that make it easy for you to fall. Many health problems can increase your risk of falling—poor eyesight, balance problems caused by disease like stroke or Parkinson's disease, side effects of medicines, weakness or pain in the legs and feet, and confusion or dementia.

For people with these conditions, common things like loose rugs, poor lighting, and household clutter can become a big safety issue. But there are easy things you can do to make your home a lot safer.

Key points

  • Some common hazards in the home might make you more likely to fall. But you can make your home safer with a few simple measures.
  • Falls can lead to serious injuries. Hitting your head can cause a head injury. A fall can break a bone, resulting in surgery and months of therapy.
  • Preventing falls can help you live a more independent life.
 

If you have problems with balance or walking or have poor eyesight, take some time to look around your home and check for things that might make you more likely to fall. Some common hazards in the home include:

  • Clutter where you walk.
  • Electrical cords.
  • Furniture or other sharp-edged items in the normal pathways through your house.
  • Poor lighting.
  • Raised doorway thresholds.
  • Slippery floors.
  • Steps and stairways.
  • Throw rugs.

Test Your Knowledge

Throw rugs can be a danger in the home and might make you more likely to fall.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    If you have poor eyesight or trouble walking, you can easily trip on a throw rug. To make your home more fall-proof, remove throw rugs and other things that you can trip over, such as clutter where you walk.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    If you have poor eyesight or trouble walking, you can easily trip on a throw rug. To make your home more fall-proof, remove throw rugs and other things that you can trip over, such as clutter where you walk.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

Falls happen. Most of the time, they are not serious. You pick yourself up and move on. But sometimes falls can be dangerous. Hitting your head can cause a head injury. A fall can break a bone, resulting in surgery and months of physical therapy. Falls are the leading cause of deaths due to injury among adults age 65 and older. 1 Broken hip bones from falls lead to the greatest number of deaths.

Preventing falls can help you live a more independent life. You are less likely to have an injury that can prevent you from carrying on your daily activities such as bathing, cooking, shopping, or just going for a walk.

Test Your Knowledge

Falls are the leading cause of deaths due to injury among adults age 65 and older.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    Sometimes falls can be dangerous. Falls are the leading cause of deaths due to injury among adults age 65 and older. Broken hip bones from falls lead to the greatest number of deaths.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    Sometimes falls can be dangerous. Falls are the leading cause of deaths due to injury among adults age 65 and older. Broken hip bones from falls lead to the greatest number of deaths.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

You can make some simple changes in your home and in the way you do some daily activities to reduce your risk of falling.

To prevent falls around your home:

  • Remove things that you can trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, and clutter. Repair loose carpet or raised areas in the floor.
  • Move furniture and electrical cords out of walking paths.
  • Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
  • If you use a walker or cane, put rubber tips on it. If you use crutches, clean the bottoms of them regularly with an abrasive pad, such as steel wool.
  • Keep your house well lit, especially stairways, porches, and outside walkways. Use night-lights in areas such as hallways and bathrooms. Add extra light switches or use remote switches (such as switches that go on or off when you clap your hands) to make it easier to turn lights on if you have to get up during the night.
  • Put sturdy handrails on stairways.
  • If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, have a family member or friend sprinkle salt or sand on slippery steps and sidewalks.

To reduce the chance of a fall during your daily activities:

  • Store household items on lower shelves so that you do not have to climb or reach high. Or use a reaching device that you can buy at a medical supply store. If you have to climb for something, use a step stool with handrails.
  • Do not try to carry too many things at the same time. Have a place near your door where you can place packages and groceries while you close the door and get ready to put things away.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with nonskid soles. Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.
  • Do not wear socks without shoes on smooth floors.

Many falls occur during bathing. To prevent falls in the bathroom:

  • Install grab handles and nonskid mats inside and outside your shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks.
  • Use shower chairs and bath benches.
  • Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first. Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.
  • Use a long-handled brush or mittens with straps to help with bathing.

Test Your Knowledge

Wearing shoes that fit well can help prevent falls.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    Wearing low-heeled shoes that fit well can give your feet good support. It also helps to wear shoes, slippers, or other footwear with nonskid soles. Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    Wearing low-heeled shoes that fit well can give your feet good support. It also helps to wear shoes, slippers, or other footwear with nonskid soles. Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.

  •  

When you get into a tub or shower, put the stronger leg in first.

  • True.
    This answer is incorrect.

    Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first. Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.

  • False.
    This answer is correct.

    Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first. Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start making changes in your home to help prevent falls.

Talk with your doctor

If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins where you have questions.

Return to topic:

References

Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Falls among older adults: An overview. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised February 6, 2013

Last Revised: February 6, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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