Preventing falls in the home
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Preventing falls in the home

Each year, approximately one out of every three elderly adults falls. About three percent of all falls result in fractures.

Factors that increase the risk of falling

  • Age: 65 and over
  • Having had a previous fall
  • Lack of exercise (resulting in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility)
  • Impaired vision
  • Hazards in the home

Tips for reducing hazards in the home

An estimated one-third of all falls in the elderly result from hazards in the home. These hazards include poor lighting, loose rugs, improper placement of electrical cords, clutter, and furniture and grab bars that are not sturdy or properly placed. Here are some ways to minimize these hazards:

Lighting

  • Make sure lighting is adequate at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Put night-lights in the hallways and bathrooms.
  • Put a lamp beside the bed with a switch that is easy to turn on.

Floors

  • Get rid of throw rugs. Secure other rugs with non-skid tape.
  • Keep electrical cords away from all walking areas.
  • Repair any loose flooring.
  • Use nonskid floor wax.

Stairs

  • Install sturdy handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Remove clutter from the stairs.
  • Put non-slip treads on bare wooden steps.
  • Replace any stair covering that is worn.
  • Repair any stairs or steps that are loose.
  • Install a ramp or chair lift for anyone who cannot safely climb the stairs.

Bathroom

  • Put non-skid mats or appliques in all tubs and showers.
  • Install sturdy grab bars by the toilet and tub.
  • Consider using a raised toilet seat, a bath seat, or a hand-held shower, if necessary.
  • Use non-skid rugs on the floor.
  • Put a mounted liquid soap dispenser in the shower or on the bathtub wall.

Bedroom

  • Make sure bed is the appropriate height so that getting on and off the bed is easy.
  • Have a sturdy chair with arms, for sitting and dressing.
  • Keep closets uncluttered. Storage shelves should be easy to reach.
  • Keep pathways free of clutter.

Kitchen and dining room

  • Keep dishes within easy reach.
  • Wipe up spills immediately.
  • Keep pathways free of clutter.

Living room

  • Furniture should be sturdy and positioned carefully so that no one can trip over it.
  • Have at least one chair with arms.
  • Keep pathways free of clutter.

Outside

  • Repair any loose boards on porches or any damages to stairs.
  • Repair abrupt edges, holes, or large cracks in sidewalks and driveways.
  • Remove hoses, equipment, vines, or anything else that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Clear snow, ice, and leaves from steps and sidewalks.
  • Have adequate lighting for walkways and stairs.

RESOURCES:

National Institute on Aging

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension



Last reviewed January 2002 by EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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