Falls at home can easily turn into major life-changing events. It takes only a few moments to lose your balance, trip, or slip, but it can take weeks or even years to recover. Falling and hurting yourself can also mean the loss of your independence. Once you’ve been injured in a fall, your mobility may decrease. This raises your risk of falling, and you may need more assistance in your daily tasks to prevent future falls.
Unfortunately, falls are extremely common among people ages 65 and older. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, falls are the number one cause of injuries in seniors. Every year, emergency rooms across the country see head injuries, shoulder and arm injuries, spine fractures, broken hips, and pelvic fractures caused by falls at home. Preventing a fall is a smart thing you can do to protect your health and independence.
Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to make your home safer and reduce your risk of a fall:
- Throughout Your Home: Ensure that all walkways are clear. If you have hardwood floors, use a non-skid wax. If you have carpet, make sure all seams are secured. Employ double-sided tape or non-skid liners to keep rugs from slipping.
- On Your Stairs: Never place any item on the stairs, even if it’s just to remind you to take it upstairs. This can become a safety hazard. Check your handrails and have them tightened if they aren’t secured. If you don’t have rails on both sides, you may want to consider getting them installed the length of the stairs.
- In the Kitchen: Use a rug in front of the sink. This will prevent slipping if the floor is wet. If you can’t reach the top shelves, store only rarely-used items in these cabinets. Keep the items you use frequently in cabinets that are easier to reach. Make your step-stool an occasional tool, not one you must use every day.
- In the Bathroom: Install grab bars in your shower or bath, and near your toilet. Make sure you have a high-quality, non-slip mat or self-stick grips on the shower floor. If you have hardwood, linoleum, or tile, always step out of the shower or tub and onto a non-slip bathmat. Finally, install a nightlight for late-night trips to the bathroom.
- In the Bedroom: Keeping the floor free from any clutter is the biggest step to preventing falls at home in the bedroom. It is also a good idea to keep a pair of non-skid shoes next to your bed instead of slippers. Slippers usually have soft soles that can be slippery.
- Outside: Make sure your walkways are even, and have any uneven areas repaired. Do not venture outside if it is snowing or there may be ice. If you have to leave, apply salt or another ice-melting compound to the walkways.
Preventing falls is one way to ensure you stay healthy and mobile as long as possible. A fall can not only injure you, it can rob you of your independence. By following the simple tips listed here, you are well on your way to reducing your risk for falls at home.