Environment and Home Hazards
Check out the environment. Look things over with fresh eyes. A throw rug that is not secured, a slick bathroom floor and no grab-bars installed can all cause falls. These safety ideas can make falls less likely:
- Keep walkways clear of objects.
- Secure electrical cords and phone cords.
- Make sure oxygen tubing is taped next to the wall.
- Consider a personal alarm device that will bring help in case of a fall when person is alone.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks, or fragile items from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs and/or remove throw rugs from the home.
- Replace and repair loose or wooden floorboards, stairs and carpeting.
- Consider carpeting or special flooring for outdoor areas and stairs that may get slick.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Remove step stools and ladders. (These are too easy to fall off of.)
- Quickly clean up any spilled liquids, grease or foodstuffs.
- Use nonskid floor and bathtub cleaners.
- Use a non-skid mat in the bathtub or shower.
Light the Way to Safety
Keeping the inside and outside of the home well-lit can help to avoid tripping, bumping and falling on objects that are hard to see. These are some lighting ideas to make the environment safer:
- Night lights should be in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Consider using a "Clapper" lamp and keep a flashlight handy with lots of fresh batteries for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips or power outages.
- Change out the traditional switch plates for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Have stairs illuminated.
- Have lights turn on automatically for certain areas of the home like the bathrooms, garage, porch, basement, etc.
Use Assistive Devices When Necessary
The doctor, home health agency, or physical therapist might recommend an assistive device like a footed cane or walker to keep the person steady. There are many kinds of assistive devices and inexpensive ideas that can help:
- Hand rails or grip bars for both sides of stairways and hallways
- Nonslip treads for steps
- Brightly colored safety strips for top and bottom stairs
- A raised toilet seat
- Grab bars for the toilet, shower or tub
- A sturdy shower chair
- Hand-held shower head
Home health agencies work closely with therapy companies. Ask for a referral to a doctor, physical or occupational therapist. He or she can help you find other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. Every county in the United States is also served by an Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Often there is additional help available to persons who are at risk of falling. The AAA may be able to offer solutions, advice and low-cost or no-cost prevention measures to keep seniors at home and independent longer. If you have identified a low-income homeowner who cannot afford to make necessary changes to their home, there may be a Rebuilding Together affiliate that can help. Visit rebuildingtogether.org to learn more about repairs and modifications to homes. Many states and local communities have low or no-interest loans, tax credits or other programs for home modifications for those who are older or disabled.