4. Remove home hazards
Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
5. Light up your living space
Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:
- Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
6. Use assistive devices
Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:
- Hand rails for both sides of stairways
- Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
- A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
- Grab bars for the shower or tub
- A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down
If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you're concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.
Feb. 04, 2014
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- Tinetti ME, et al. The patient who falls: "It's always a trade-off." JAMA. 2010;303:258.
- MacCulloch PA, et al. Comprehensive fall prevention programs across settings: A review of the literature. Geriatric Nursing. 2007;28:306.
- AskMayoExpert. Geriatric care. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/CheckListForSafety.html. Accessed June 26, 2013.
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