Are you worried about your risk of falling as you get older? According to the CDC, most falls happen at home.1 Over 29 million falls are incurred by older Americans every year.2 But simple steps can be taken to make your house safer to help prevent falls.
15 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Slips and Falls
1. Look for fall hazards and remove them.
- Clean up clutter around your home. Pick up any objects you might trip over including papers, books, shoes, boxes, and other items.
- Always keep your stairs clear of any objects.
- Fix any loose or uneven steps or floorboards.
- Remove any rugs or make sure they are firmly taped down.
- Walk around and make sure there aren’t any objects or furniture (like coffee tables) that block a clear path throughout your home.
- Tape or coil any extension, phone, charging, or electronic cords near the wall.
2. Add adequate lighting.
- Make sure you have enough lighting throughout your home.
- Add brighter bulbs in stairways and hallways.
- Add nightlights in your bedroom and bathrooms to guide you if you need to get up at night.
3. Wear clothes that fit properly.
- Make sure your pants are hemmed properly so they don’t drag on the ground. Don’t wear long bathrobes either, so you don’t trip.
4. Wear shoes all day.
- Socks may be comfy, but they can also be slippery. Wearing sensible shoes with non-skid soles can reduce your risk of falls.
- Avoid high heels, slippers, and shoes with slippery soles.
- If you really prefer socks, wear socks with non-slip treads.
5. Live in a one-level home.
- Stairs can be a major tripping hazard. If possible, live in a home where everything is on one level.
- If you need to use the stairs, be careful and try to limit how many trips you take up and down them each day.
6. Move carefully and get up slowly.
- Take your time when you transition from lying down to sitting up and from sitting up to standing.
- Also be careful when navigating the stairs. Use the railing and go slowly. Be especially careful when carrying other items.
7. Use mobility devices.
- Talk with your doctor about whether you would benefit from using a mobility aid. A cane, walker, or rollator can provide support and keep you steady and on your feet.
8. Stay physically active.
- Regular exercise keeps your muscles strong and helps you stay flexible.
- Go for a walk, take a water aerobics class, or do some exercises with a resistance band.
- Strength and balance exercises can help build confidence and reduce your risk of falls.
- If you’re living in an independent living or assisted living facility, check to see if they offer free fitness classes.
9. Have your eyes checked.
- Get a check up from an eye doctor at least once a year to see if you need glasses or need to update your prescription.
- When you get new glasses or contacts, take the time to get used to them.
- Bifocal and progressive lenses can make things appear closer or further away than they really are. Having a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription can help prevent falls when you’re walking or doing outdoor activities.
10. Go over your medication list with your doctor.
- Some medications have side effects that increase your risk of a fall, including dizziness, lightheadedness, or sleepiness.
- Make sure you tell your doctor all of the medications you are taking, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs (OTCs). The interactions between the different meds can also increase your fall risk.
11. Get enough sleep.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Adults require seven to nine hours of sleep a night and if you’re sleepy you might be more prone to falling.3
- A comfortable, supportive pillow and soothing lavender essential oil can make it easier for you to fall and stay asleep.
12. Add a grab rail and other fall prevention products to your home.
- Install a grab bar near the shower or tub, toilet, and stairs to give you a sturdy handhold.
- A non-slip bath mat or shower chair can reduce your risk of slips and falls.
- Check out more fall prevention products to add to your home.
13. Paint a contrasting color on your stairs.
- Missing the edge of a step can set you up for a nasty fall. Painting a contrasting color on the top edge of all of your steps (for example, you could use white paint on dark wood) will allow you to see the stairs better.
14. Be careful when walking on slippery surfaces.
- Winter is not nice when it comes to slippery ice. Make sure your driveway and sidewalk are shoveled and salted to avoid falls on snow and ice.
- Winter months bring an increased fall risk. One way to stay safe is to use an ice cane attachment to give you extra grip on icy areas.
15. Wear a medical alert necklace so you can call 911 if you fall.
- While your goal is to prevent falls, accidents happen. It’s important to be prepared in case you do fall. Get up slowly, asking for assistance if needed.
- A Guardian Alert 911 can be worn as a necklace, clipped to a belt, or kept in your pocket. With a simple press of a button, you can call 911 and get the help you need if you can’t get up from a fall.
Follow these steps to help prevent falls at home. Then, learn more about fall prevention so you stay safe from slips and falls!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Aging Without Injury. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2VP2Z3k
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Falls Are the Leading Cause of Injury and Death in Older Americans. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2mjZik6
National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Why you get less shut-eye as you age—and whether or not that’s a good thing. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2YDb6SV
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