Five Tips to Prevent Falls in Your Home
A health concern that is common among adults is the fear of sustaining a fall, especially in the home. The CDC reports that each year, one in every four Americans over the age of 65 will fall. Falls are also the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of trauma-related hospital admissions for the same population. Given these statistics, there are five easy tips that you can implement in your home to help reduce the risk of falling.
First, make sure walkways and high traffic areas are free from clutter. Rugs do make your home lovely, but they present a tripping hazard. You may have to rearrange some furniture to keep your paths clear. Please make sure that cords are secure behind furniture and do not run across the floor. You will also want to clearly mark any transitions in the flooring as well, such as moving from tile to carpet.
Second, have plenty of lighting available and turned on! Night time falls are common, as you have awakened from sleep and may not be as alert as you would be during the day. When you get out of the bed, turn on your bedside lamp. Make sure that there are night lights along your path, usually to the bathroom. A simple act of turning on a light can make a huge difference! Also, if you have stairs, either inside or outside your home, place a light nearby so that you can turn it on before ascending or descending the stairs.
Third, consider the use of assistive devices. This does not have to be a walker or cane! Installing grab bars in the shower or close to the commode can help. Also, ensure that any stairs or steps have rails, preferably on both sides. Other assistive devices that could benefit you include a chair or bench in the shower to allow for a place to sit, as well as a raised commode seat so that you don’t have to sit down and get up from a low surface.
Fourth, invest in good footwear. Most people prefer to be comfortable in their home, but wearing shoes is a must. Slippers and flip flops increase the risk of tripping or having your foot slide out of the shoe. Wearing a supportive, closed shoe will help reduce this risk factor.
Finally, keep moving! Performing simple exercises on a daily basis can help keep your muscles strong and flexible. Walking is also a great exercise. For the majority of my patients, I recommend getting up and walking somewhere in the home at least once an hour. This could be a trip to the bathroom, to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or to a window to look out in the yard. Regardless of the activity, preventing joint and muscle stiffness will go a long way toward preventing a fall.
If you have sustained a fall or would like more information on fall prevention, consider obtaining a referral to physical therapy for an individualized exercise program!