Whether you’re looking to avoid a broken hip or a major concussion, protect yourself or loved one, making sure you’ve checked off the boxes of this fall prevention plan will help you stay upright.
According to the Center for Disease Control, if you’re 65 or older, the odds are pretty high you’re going to have a fall this year, an astounding 1 in 4 chance! To appreciate just how serious a risk falls are to older adults, they are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries! An older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.
It could be your low blood pressure, balance, medication, tripping, poor strength, or improper footwear. Yes, it may be time to say goodbye to your favorite Christian Louboutin heels.
The good news is the vast majority of falls are preventable. If you’ve fallen in the past year, feel unsteady when standing or walking or are just plain worried about falling, it’s time to make some changes.
Below are 25 fall prevention steps you can take to lower the chance you end up on your back for all the wrong reasons!
Fall Prevention in the Bathroom
- Non-Slip Rubber Mat: Add a non-slip rubber mat in the shower or tub and on the bathroom floor. Wherever there’s water, make sure there’s an adhesive surface to prevent slipperiness – self-stick strips will do just as well.
- Grab Bars: Install grab bars by the toilet and in the shower and tub. Make sure the grab bars are properly installed at the right level and are able to support your full body weight – towel racks are NOT a substitute.
- Shower Chair: If you have mobility or balance difficulties, the shower can be a risky place. Add a seat to add some stability and give yourself the confidence to scrub from your nose to your toes.
- Hand-Held Shower Head: A hand-held shower head, accessible at chest level, can help you avoid the imbalance that comes with reaching.
- Walk-in Shower or Tub: Simply removing the obstruction of a bathtub wall can not only reduce the risk of falling for many, but also increase their independence and ability to shower or bath on their own for years to come. No need to pretend you’re Jesse Owens doing the high hurdles getting in and out of your tub every morning!
Fall Prevention on Stairs
- Two Hand Rails: Installing a hand rail on both sides of the stairway will give you extra balance on the way up and down. Just make sure both are installed properly and can support your bodyweight.
- Contrasting Colors on Stairs: Add strips of contrasting colored tape on the top and edges of each of your steps, so they can be easily seen. It may not get you on the cover of House Beautiful, but take a pic and we’ll put it in SeniorSafetyReviews.com if it you need the adulation!
- Remove the Clutter: Clear the stairs of obstacles like shoes, books and clothing.
- Bright and Accessible Lighting: Get good lighting on your steps so they can be easily seen. Make sure you have switches at the top and bottom of your steps so you can easily turn your lights on and off.
Fall Prevention at the Front Door
- Secure your Front Steps: If your front steps have cracks, are uneven or wobbly get them fixed as soon as possible. It’s a good investment in your curb appeal regardless!
- Outdoor Lighting: Make sure the lighting for your outdoor steps are bright. A great idea is to install motion sensor lighting that will go on when you approach your walkway from outside or inside your home.
- Install Railings and a Grab Bar: Railings on both sides of your outdoor steps are recommended. You might also consider a grab bar at your front door to hold onto while you fumble for your keys to let yourself in.
Fall Prevention in the Bedroom
- Night Light: Many falls happen at night, between your bed and bathroom. Install night lights along your route to the bathroom (they can even be motion sensored or go on automatically at night) and make sure there’s a light switch at your bedside to brighten a clear path between your bed and the bathroom.
- Clear Path between Bed and Bath: Don’t leave any clutter on the path between your bed and bathroom. Regardless of how well lit your path may be, we’re at our groggiest and foggiest in the middle of the night. Shoes, clothing, wires, lamps, chairs and tables should be cleared from the path.
- Proper Bed Height: A bed too high or too low can make that first step a gamble. Make sure your bed is just right so you don’t feel like you’re off balance getting in or out of bed.
- Bed Rail: Having something to hold on to when changing positions, or getting in and out of bed, can be very helpful, especially if you feel weak or dizzy getting out of bed.
- Phone Proximity: Place your phone within arm’s reach of your bedside.
Fall Prevention in the Kitchen
- Remove Area or Scatter Rugs: Area rugs are tripping and slipping hazards. The ends of area rugs often curl up creating the equivalent of miniature trip wire. Rugs that aren’t securely affixed to the kitchen floor (especially area rugs without a rubber backing), move around like shoes on ice.
- Everything Within Reach: Everyday items like dishes, cups, pots, pans, spices and all pantry items should all be within easy reach, i.e chest level. Nothing should be on the top shelf. Nothing should cause you to reach uncomfortably, be on one foot or use a step stool. Your Barishnikov days are behind you!
- Don’t Leave Spills or Water Lying Around: Kitchen floors can be extremely slippery when wet. Clean up all spills immediately, before you forget the danger that lurks!
Falls Prevention in the Hallway
- Bright Lighting: Hallways tend to be the least well lit areas in many homes. Make sure you have enough lighting and the bulbs are strong enough. It’s also a good idea to install motion sensored or automatic night lighting throughout your hallways.
- Avoid Runners: Although beautiful, that Persian runner with its tasseled and curled edges are lurking dangers. It might be time to boycott the Persian rug.
Fall Prevention Footwear
- Bye-Bye Cotton Socks: Socks on kitchen floors and wood steps can be more slippery than walking on ice with rubber boots. If you like wearing socks in the house, choose a pair with rubber treads on the bottom.
- Adios Open Back Slippers: While easy to slip on, open back slippers also easily fall off when taking to the stairs. For secure footing on stairs, make sure to wear close back slippers that stay securely on your feet at all times.
Fall Prevention Exercise
- Yoga, Tai Chi, Stepping On, Otago, A Matter of Balance: Stay active, stay strong, stay balanced. Participating in an evidence-based fall prevention exercise program can reduce your chance of falling by 35-40% according to the National Council on Aging, not to mention all the other health and lifestyle benefits!
Despite taking all the measures you can to avoid falling, if you're still feeling insecure, you might want to consider a medical alert system. The best medical alert systems have fall detection technology which automatically call emergency responders or family members when a fall is detected. Other systems will dispatch the appropriate emergency service at the press of your button. Either way, you'll have the safety and security of knowing that if you fall, and no one's around, you won't be left lying on the ground for hours or days before someone notices.