10 Tips for Making Life Easier™ – Preventing Falls
Falls are the number one cause of injury related deaths, out ranking even car accidents. For older adults, falls often lead to giving up living independently. And once you have fallen, serious injury or not, the fear of falling again can be a barrier to doing all the things you want to do at home and in your community. Firmly believing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, here are a few ways to reduce your chance of falling.
1. Make your home familiar and safe.
2. Reduce floor hazards.
- Avoid the urge to rearrange the furniture — keeping everything in the same place is an important strategy for people who are blind, with poor vision, mobility impairments, and memory issues.
- Keep low tables out of the path of travel or cover them with bright towels to help them be seen.
3. Improve household lighting. Make sure you can see where you are going and what you are doing.
- Remove all throw rugs and other temporary floor coverings that could cause someone with a shuffle or poor vision to trip.
- Use nonskid flooring and finishes or coat existing floors with non-skid finishes available from home improvement stores.
- Create visual cues when transitioning from hard surfaces to carpet. In stall carpet so there is no lip or other ripping hazard between surfaces.
4. Make stairs safer.
- Add sound-, touch-, and motion activated switches to lights so as you enter a room or move through the house the lights turn on and off automatically. Simple fixtures and adapter plugs are available at most hardware or home improvement stores.
- Use a nightlight to avoid stumbling in the dark. Check out the Guardian Angel – nightlight, flashlight, and emergency power outage light all in one.
- Outside, use solar lights that automatically turn on when it gets dark to light the entry path to your home — no need to remember to turn the lights on before you leave the house in the daylight to light your way if you return after dark.
- Check that all railings and step surfaces are secure and sound. A loose step can be a tripping hazard, and the last thing you want when you slip is a railing that gives way.
- Install railings on both sides of a stairway. This gives support on either or both sides, especially helpful if one handed or one side is weaker than the other. Be sure all railings are mounted securely into the studs.
- Paint stair treads a different color than risers to help someone with a visual disability differentiate between step and surroundings. Add extra traction and visibility on exterior steps by using colored rubber treads.
- Consider adding low wattage step lights like used in theaters, to make step surfaces more easily visible.
5. Install extra support wherever you need it. A must in the bathroom where damp surfaces may be slippery, yet decorative ergonomic bars may be installed almost unobtrusively anywhere you need a little extra support, and sometimes serve dual purposes as a towel bar or drapery tie back. Be sure to mount grab bars securely to the studs. Visit a bathroom showroom to see what is available.
6. Reduce the need for bending and reaching — activities that tend to lead to falls. Keep things you use frequently at counter level. Also, get in the habit of closing all cabinet doors and drawers when you are not actively using them, so you or anyone else doesn’t trip over them.
7. Raise the toilet seat and create a barrier-free shower. Doing so will remove the two biggest safety hazards in the bathroom. Install grab bars inside and outside the tub, on both sides of the toilet and anywhere else you tend to reach for additional support.
8. Use a Bed Cane or rail support for getting into and out of bed, chairs, or other furniture safely. Visit www.HealthCraftProducts.com for some ideas on what is available.
9. Go wireless. Get rid of wires from computers, phones, and other electronic devices by going wireless. If that is not possible, use charging stations, cable wraps and other devices to contain them. Never run wires across a door or walkway.
10. Ask your doctor to recommend a risk assessment of your home to identify specific things you can do to keep your home safe.
For more tips and strategies for making your home safer and more accessible, pick up a copy of Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier by Shelley Peterman Schwarz at a library, bookstore, or on-line bookseller.
©2011 Meeting Life’s Challenges, LLC www.MakingLifeEasier.com
For reprint permission contact Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com