Are you preparing your home to be cozy and festive for family and friends this holiday? As you’re tidying and decorating, keep in mind how you can help prevent falls and accidents in the house by modifying your home.
Twelve million older adults fall every year and the number is rising – that’s more than 1 in 4 older adults falling each year, according to the CDC. Of those falls, 20 percent result in serious injury, such as fractures or traumatic brain injuries. But falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging, and there are proven strategies to reduce the incidence of falls – modifying your home is an important and tangible way you can help keep your loved ones safe.
Professional home evaluators can assess fall risks in your home and make recommendations for changes, however, home modifications can be as simple as adding grab bars and improving lighting. Consider moving that throw rug while family is in town, and moving/hiding extension cords and piles of books and magazines to decrease risk of tripping.
Here are some tips to safeguard your home and help prevent falls inside and outside:
Indoor Fall Prevention
- Keep walkways clear of cords and clutter.
- Place items within easy reach. For items out of reach, have a long-handled grabber handy.
- For items in high places, use a step stool with hand rails.
- Use nonskid rubber backing on area rugs, bathroom rugs and shower mats.
- Place hand rails or grab bars in the shower and by the toilet.
- Place and use handrails on both sides of all stairways.
- On hardwood or uncarpeted floors, avoid using slippery wax.
- Wear only shoes with nonskid soles.
- Use only shower/tub seats with nonskid legs.
- At night, turn on the lights. Place a night-light between your bed and the light switch.
- Keep your phone with you at all times in case you need help.
Outdoor Fall Prevention
- Use handrails when going up and down stairs or escalators.
- Walk on grass if walkways look slippery.
- Wear boots in the winter and low-heeled shoes – shoes with rubber soles provide better traction.
- Use an assistive device, like a walker or cane, as needed.
- Keep your hands free by wearing a shoulder bag, fanny pack or backpack.
- Keep walkways, porches and driveways free of leaves, snow, trash and clutter.
- In public places, watch out for polished marble or tile floors that may be slippery.
As we age, we lose muscle mass at the rate of approximately 5-10 percent every decade after the age of 40 – this rate significantly increases after age 65. These age-related changes may directly or indirectly affect balance. Understanding and accepting how the body changes and being open to modifying activities and environments are crucial to avoiding injury.
Have a fall-proof home this holiday!
These tips are provided by Mission Health’s Fraction Prevention Clinic and CarePartners.