Falls Prevention in Seniors: How to Prevent Falls at Home
Did you know that falls are not a “normal” part of aging and that the majority of falls can be prevented if the necessary precautions are taken? One in every 4 seniors falls each year but you have the power to reduce the risk for yourself or your loved one.
How to Prevent Falls in Older Adults
Steps to reduce the risk of falls:
- Exercise regularly. There are numerous exercise classes for older adults at community centers, religious centers and schools. Balance is key here. Tai Chi programs are especially good for improving balance.
- Medication review. Request that medications are reviewed by a doctor, pharmacist or pharmacologist to make certain that a specific medication or a combination of medications do not have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness, which can increase the chance of falling.
- Check vision. Make sure to schedule an eye exam at least once a year.
- Reduce tripping hazards. Make sure the home is safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings on both sides of the stairways. Make sure lighting is adequate throughout the home as well.
- Schedule a PT evaluation. If walking becomes an issue, request an evaluation by a Physical Therapist to ensure the older adult is using proper and appropriate assistive devices such as a walker or cane.
Making Your Home Fall-Proof
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling at home is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent for as long as possible.
You can make some simple changes in your home and in the way you do some daily activities to reduce your risk of falling.
How to prevent falls around the house:
- Remove things that you can trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, and clutter. Repair loose carpet or raised areas in the floor.
- Move furniture and electrical cords out of walking paths.
- Use non-skid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
- If you use a walker or cane, put rubber tips on it. If you use crutches, clean the bottoms of them regularly with an abrasive pad, such as steel wool.
- Keep your house well lit, especially stairways, porches, and outside walkways. Use nightlights in areas such as hallways and bathrooms. Add motion sensor light switches to ensure lights turn on if motion is detected during the night.
- Put sturdy handrails on stairways.
- If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, sprinkle salt or cat litter on slippery steps and sidewalks.
How to reduce the chance of a fall in your daily activities:
- Store household items on lower shelves so that you do not have to climb or reach high. Or use a reaching device that you can buy at a medical supply store. If you have to climb for something, use a step stool with handrails.
- Do not try to carry too many things at the same time. Have a place near your door where you can place packages and groceries while you close the door and get ready to put things away.
- Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with nonskid soles. Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.
- Do not wear socks without shoes on smooth floors.
How to prevent falls in the bathroom:
- Install grab handles and non-skid mats inside and outside your shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks.
- Use shower chairs and bath benches.
- Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first. Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.
- Use a long-handled brush or mittens with straps to help with bathing.
Fall Prevention Resources
To help readers be best prepared to avoid falls, the National Council on Aging offers these useful articles and guides on the topic.
Falls Free CheckUp tool:
Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls
Get the Facts on Falls Prevention
6 Falls Prevention Steps to Help Your Older Loved Ones
We're here to help
If you or a loved one is experiencing issues with falling and would like additional information on fall prevention and the legal documents to aid in planning for care or to speak to one of our Elder Care Coordinators about resources for elderly adults, please contact our office or call us at 631-424-2800. We are here to help.