When it comes to senior health, reducing the risk of falling is a serious business. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults, with more than half of fall injuries among seniors occurring inside their home. Along with exercise (which can greatly improve balance), one of the most effective fall prevention strategies you can make is to “fall-proof” your house. Read on to discover seven simple ways you can decrease your chances of taking a tumble inside your home and prevent falls.
1.Remove Tripping Hazards
One of the first steps to a safe living environment is to clear out clutter, getting rid of anything that could trip you up or cause you to slip: electrical or phone cords, shoes, pet bowls, the list goes on. Take care to create an orderly environment, arranging furniture so that there is plenty of room to walk freely, moving small pieces of furniture and knick knacks from high-traffic areas, and, above all, keeping your stairs clutter-free.
2. Pay Attention to Floor Surfaces
Slipping on wet floors can be hazardous to your health, so avoid walking on newly washed surfaces and clean up any spills right away. Another way to bypass a fall injury is to put non-skid mats inside and outside your shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks. It’s also prudent to repair any loose or worn flooring or carpet and replace throw rugs with non-slip rugs -- if you must keep your throw rugs, use double-sided tape to keep them from slipping. In addition, put non-slip strips on your stairs, and, if vision or depth perception is an issue, go one step further and add contrast strips on stairs.
3. Rearrange Frequently Used Items
As falling from a step stool or ladder is an easy way to break old bones, put items you use often on lower shelves so that you won’t need to climb a ladder to reach them. Store less frequently used items on higher shelves, using a grabbing tool to reach them.
4. Scrutinize Your Lighting
Since poor lighting is another environmental factor that could lead to a fall, do a check of your house, ensuring that you have adequate lighting in each room, at entrances, on outdoor walkways, and in stairways (ideally, you should have light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs). Use the highest wattage of light bulbs that is safe, and replace burnt out light bulbs and broken or malfunctioning lamps or lights. Also, for those late night bathroom trips, put nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and stairwells, and keep a flashlight close by your bed in case the power goes out.
5. Install Handrails and Grab Bars
Because falling down the stairs can be disabling if not deadly, it’s vital to have sturdy handrails installed and to make sure you use them each and every time you go up or down stairs. Bathrooms are also a risky place for falls, so be sure to have grab bars installed near the toilet as well as in the shower. Never use towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars as they can easily come loose, causing you to take a spill.
6. Raise Your Toilet Seat
Another danger area for older adults who have trouble balancing is transitioning from one position to another. For this reason, consider installing a raised toilet seat or toilet riser, especially if you find it painful to bend to use the toilet. These devices increase the height of the toilet making it easier for you to sit down and rise up.
7. Use Shower Chairs and Bath Benches
Finally, if you have trouble sitting in the tub or standing for long periods, it’s advised to use a shower chair or bath bench combined with a shower wand, which can be used to access all parts of your body. A bonus bathroom pointer: Use liquid soap instead of bar soap, which can easily slip from your hands, forcing you to bend down and pick it up.
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