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How can I prevent falls at home?

Falls in the home are usually due to hazards that can be easily corrected. Throw rugs should be removed or secured to the floor by taping, objects on the floor should be picked up and electrical cords should run next to the wall. Stairs should be well lit and clear of any objects, and carpeting should be secured to every step. The bathtub or shower should have grab bars or nonslip mats, if needed, and the path from the bed to the bathroom should have good lighting.
Falls, exercise and participation in sports cause most sprains and strains. Although these injuries cannot always be avoided, there are safety tips you can use to prevent them:
  • Keep walkways, hallways and doorways well lit.
  • Keep nightlights in bedrooms for children and the elderly.
  • Put handrails on both sides of stairways.
  • Use rubber mats in showers and bathtubs.
  • Keep floors clear of objects that could cause someone to trip over them.
  • Use nonskid wax on floors.
  • Use rug glue for throw rugs and loose carpets.
  • Use a stepstool (not a chair) to reach objects out of reach.
  • Be sure you can see where you are walking when carrying something in your arms.
  • Be aware that medications, alcohol and illness can cause a loss of balance.
  • Use proper technique when lifting. (Use your legs and save your back.)
  • Make sure porches and steps are lighted at night.
  • Keep sidewalks and porches clear of ice in winter.
  • Be careful when using a ladder. Avoid standing on the top three steps.

The risk of falling affects seniors for several reasons, not just because of mobility problems. Reduce your risk with these tips:

  • Check your medication: Diuretics for high blood pressure can cause leg cramps, and medicines for overactive bladder and chronic pain can cause dizziness.
  • Critique your home: Move obstacles such as extension cords and furniture out of all high-traffic areas. Install night-lights in dimly lit areas and along stairwells. Secure loose rugs with nonslip pads. In the bathroom, install nonslip mats or hand bars, or a nonskid seat in the shower. Store items only on low shelves, and use a grabber tool or a stepstool with nonskid steps and a handle to reach them.
  • Consider using a cane or walker. Learn to use it correctly.
  • Replace your shoes: Slip-on shoes are a hazard because they tend to slide around. Instead, go with a sturdy shoe with a firm, nonslip sole and laces. Spring laces stay tight and don't need tying. Velcro fasteners also work fine.
  • Exercise: Practice a fitness routine that improves concentration and balance, such as yoga or tai chi. Classes are available for beginners and seniors.
  • Stay in touch: Be sure you always have a way to call for help if needed, whether it's a cell phone with 911 and family members on speed dial or a 24-hour monitoring service.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.